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UNDER THE YOKE 



NEW 6s NOVELS 

KING-EREANT. By Flora Annie Steel, Author 

of " On the Face of the Waters," &c. 
THE "MIND THE PAINT GIRL." By Louis 

Tracy. Adapted from Sir Arthur Pinero's Play 

of that name. 
MOLYNEUX OF MAYFAIR. By Duncan 

Schwann, Author of " The Book of a Bachelor." 

Illlustrated by Olive Snell. 
THE MARRIAGE OP KETTLE. By C. J. 

CuTCLiFFE Htne. Illustrated. 
THE CAHUSAC MYSTERY. By K. and H. 

Hesketh Prichard. 
BETWEEN TWO THIEVES. By Kichard 

Dehan, Author of " The Dop Doctor." 
ADNAM'S ORCHARD. By Sarah Grand, 

Author of " The Heavenly Twins," &c. 
MINNA. By Karl Gjellerup, Author of " Kama- 

mita." 
THE STORY OF STEPHEN COMPTON. By 

J. E. Patterson, Author of " Tillers of the Soil." 
THE DECLENSION OP HENRY D'ALBIAC. 

By V. GoLDiE, Author of "Marjorie Stevens," &c. 
GUTTER-BABIES. By Dorothea Slade. Illus- 
trated by Lady Stanley. 
A RUNAWAY RING. By Mrs. Henry Dudeney, 

Author of " The Orchard Thief," &c. 
A DESERT ROSE. By Mrs. Daskein. 
BACK HOME. By Irvin S. Cobb. 

LESS THAN THE DUST. By Mary Agnes 

Hamilton. 
YONDER. By E. H. Young, Author of " A Oom of 

Wheat," &c. 

LONDON : WILLIAM HEINEMANN 
21 Bedford Street, W.C. 



UNDER THE YOKE ^ 

A ROMANCE OF BUL-^ 
GARIAN LIBERTY BY 
lYAN YAZOFF WITH 

anIntrodijction by 
edmund gosse, c.b. 



A NEW AND REVISED EDITION 




LONDON MCMXII 

WILLIAM HEINEMANN 



PRESERVATION 
COPY ADDED 
ORIGINAL TO BE 
RETAINED 



APR 22 1994 



Firatpublished {HeinemanrCs International Library) December 1893 
. » • V .. 2N^ Edition November 191S 



rG, I03-7 



'Pci^ 



INTRODUCTION 



If there is a certain gratification in presenting to titeErtgiiBh. 
public the first specimen of the literature of a new people, 
that gratification is lifted above triviality, and grounded 
upon a serious critical basis, when the book so presented is 
in itself a masterpiece. I do not think that it will be 
questioned that Under the Yoke is a romance of modern 
history of a very high class indeed. That it should be the 
earliest representation of Bulgarian belles-lettres translated 
into a Western tongue may be curious and interesting, but 
the book rests its claim upon English readers on no such 
accidental quality. Tji any language, however hackneyed, 
the extreme beauty of this heroic novel, so simple and yet so 
artfully constructed, so full of ideal charm, permeated with 
so pure and fiery a passion, so human and tender, so modem 
and yet so direct and primitive, must have been assured 
among all imaginative readers. 

The story is one of false dawn before the sunrise. The 
action proceeds, as may gradually be discovered, in the 
years 1875 and 1876, and the scene is laid in that comer of 
Bulgaria which was not until 1886 completely freed from 
Turkish rule — the north-west part of Thrace — overshadowed 
by the Balkan on the north, and then forming part of 
the anomalous suzerainty of Eastern Roumelia. Pod I goto 
is the title of the book, and I am instructed that in Bulgarian 
the three words Pod Igo-to mean, literally translated, Under 
the Yoke. The whole story is the chronicle of one of those 
abortive attempts which were made throughout Bulgaria 
and Roumelia forty years ago, under the hope of help from 
Russia, to throw off the intolerable Turkish yoke of 
tyranny. The tale ends tragically, with the failure of the 
particular and partial insurrection described, and the 
martyrdom of the leading patriots who took a part in 
it ; but the reader is preserved from finding this failure 

717088 



vi INTRODUCTION 

depressing by the consciousness that relief was at hand, and 
that an end was soon afterwards to be put to all the 
horrors of bondage, to the incessant zaptie at the door, to the 
hateful Turkish rapine, to the misery of Christian servitude 
under a horde of Oriental officials. 

For particulars as to the career of the author of Under the 
Yoke I am indebted to the kindness of Professor J. E. 
Gueshoff of Sofia, whose enthusiasm for English institutions 
is well known in this country. Ivan Vazoff, by far the most 
distinguished writer of modern Bulgaria, was bom in 
August 1850, at Sopot, a large South Bulgarian village in 
what was later known as Eastern Roumelia, at the foot of 
the Balkan, and about forty miles to the north of Philip- 
popolis. The locality indicated is identical with the centre 
of the district obviously described in Under the Yoke, and I 
should not be surprised to learn that Bela Cherkva, the 
little toAvn so lovingly and so picturesquely pictured by M. 
Vazoff as the centre of his novel, was Sopot under a disguise. 

The other scenes of action — Klissoura, Karlovo, Kop- 
rivshtitsa, and the rest — ^appear in the course of this 
romance under their real names, and are the towns of a 
lovely pastoral district. The story passes in the heart of 
the famous Valley of Roses, where the attar is made ; and 
over those billowy meadows, heavy with the redundant 
rose, over the hurrying water-courses, the groves of walnut 
and pear trees, the white cupolas ringed about with poplars, 
the little sparkling cities — over all this foreground of rich 
fertility there rises the huge bulwark of the inaccessible 
Balkan, snow-clad all though the tropic summer, and feeding 
the flowery plain with the wealth of its cascades and 
torrents. 

M. Ivan Vazoff was educated at the school of his native 
village. Prom Sopot his father, a small trader, sent him to 
Kalofer and then to Philippopolis. At that time, so Pro- 
fessor Gueshoff assures me, Bulgarian literature consisted 
of nothing but a few school-books and pohtical pamphlets, 



INTRODUCTION vii 

possessed of no literary pretensions. Like all other Bul- 
garians who have made their mark in new Bulgaria, M. 
Vazoff was driven to seek his facts and his ideas from foreign 
sources. None but works written in alien languages were 
worthy to be read. He set himself to study Russian and 
then French, taking advantage of the school libraries exist- 
ing in the chief centres of population. When the budding 
spirit of Bulgaria put forth that first tender leaf. The Periodic 
Review, published at Braila, over the frontiers of friendly 
Roumania, he was one of the first to contribute poems to it. 

From 1870 to 1872 M. Vazoff resided, like so many edu- 
cated Bulgarians of that time, in Roumania. But in the latter 
year he went back to Sopot, hesitating between the only 
two employments open to such men as he, teaching and 
trade. He chose the latter, and entered his father's business* 
He was not very successful, attending to it, we may believe, 
not much more closely than his hero, Ognianoff, does to 
school- work. No doubt, not a little of M. Vazoff 's personal 
history is here mingled with his fiction, for we find that he 
grew more and more an object of suspicion to the Turkish 
authorities, until in 1876, the year of smouldering and 
futile insurrection, he had to fly north across the Balkan 
for his life. He reached Roumania in safety, and at 
Bucharest joined the Bulgarian Revolutionary Committee. 
The three stormy years that followed saw the final develop- 
ment of his genius, and the publication of three volumes of 
his patriotic lyrical poetry. The Banner and the Ouzla, The 
Sorrows of Bulgaria, The Deliverance, in which the pro- 
gressive story of Bulgarian emancipation may be read in 
admirable verse. 

He returned in 1878 to find Sopot destroyed, and his 
father murdered by the Bashi-bozouks. The impression 
made upon his imagination by the horrors of his bleeding 
country may be clearly marked in the later chapters of 
Under the Yoke. M. Vazoff accepted from the Russians, 
who^^were then in occupation of Bulgaria, a judicial 



viii" INTRODUCTION 

appointment. In 1879 he was elected a member of the Per- 
manent Committee of the Provincial Assembly in the new 
and anomalous country of Eastern Roumelia. He settled 
in the new capital, Philippopolis, and here he published his 
earliest prose works, his stories of Not Long Ago, Mitrofan, 
Hadji Akhil, and The Outcast, his comedy of Mikhalaki, and 
issued, besides, two new collections of poetry, entitled Fields 
and Woods and Italy respectively. The last-mentioned 
was published in 1884, after the author had been travelling 
in the country it celebrated. 

During the Serbo- Bulgarian war of 1885, M. Vazoif 
visited the battle-fields of Slivnitza, Tsaribrod, and Pirot, 
sang the valour of his countrymen in dithyrambic strains, 
and inveighed — in a volume entitled Slivnitza — against the 
fratricidal madness of King Milan. Dissatisfied with the 
turn taken by aiiairs in the peninsula after the abdication 
of Prince Alexander of Battenberg, M. Vazoff in 1886 left 
for Russia. It was while residing in Odessa that he wrote 
the romance of Pod Igoto (" Under the Yoke "), which is 
generally admitted to be his masterpiece. In 1889 he 
returned to Bulgaria, and settled in Sofia, where he had 
inherited some property from an uncle. Pod Igoto first 
appeared, in serial form, in the excellent Sbornik (or 
Miscellany) published by the Bulgarian Ministry of Public 
Instruction. The same review issued in 1892 a book by 
M. Vazoff entitled The Great Desert of Rilo, and in 1893 
another, called In the Heart of the Rhodope. In 1891-92 
our author undertook the editorial management of the 
monthly periodical Dennitsa (" The Morning Star "). He 
is now, without a rival, the leading writer of Bulgaria, 
and actively engaged in the production of prose and 
verse. 

The poems of Vazoff enjoy a great popularity in his own 
country, and selections from them have been translated 
into Russian, Czech, Slovenian, and Servian. The Bohe- 
mians may read him in a version by Voracek, published at 



INTRODUCTION ' ix 

Prague in 1891, which is recommended to me as particu- 
larly admirable. But alas ! Bohemia is itself remote, and a 
poet to whom a translation into Czech appears to be an 
introduction to the Western world seems to us inaccessible 
indeed. Professor Gueshoff considers that VazofE will 
hold in the history of Bulgarian literature a place analogous 
to that of Chaucer in our otvti. Having no Bulgarian 
models to follow, and no native traditions of poetical 
style, Vazoff has had to invent the very forms of versifica- 
tion that he uses. His success has already led to the crea- 
tion of a school of young Bulgarian poets, but, though 
many have imitated Vazoff with talent, not one approaches 
him in the melody of his metrical effects or in his magical 
command of the resources of the Bulgarian language. 

Written during an epoch of intense national excitement, 
in a language quite unused before, Vazoff's poems are 
described to me as reflecting with extraordinary directness 
and simple passion the woes and burdens, the hopes and 
the pleasures, of a pastoral people, long held in servitude 
but at length released. Most of the figures celebrated in 
his ballads and his odes are the heroes of contemporary 
patriotism — ^men, unknown till yesterday, who rose into 
momentary fame by fighting and dying for their country. 
They live crystallised in this beautiful verse, already 
classical, already the food and inspiration of Bulgarian 
youth — verse written by a son of the new country, one 
who suffered and struggled with her through her worst 
years of hope deferred. How tantalising it is that we 
cannot read such poetry, with the dew of the morning of a 
nation upon it ! It is almost enough to tempt the busiest 
of us to turn aside to the study of Bulgarian. 

We may regret our wider loss the less, since it is now 
practicable to read in English what all Bulgarians seem to 
admit is the leading prose product of their nation. In Pod 
I goto (" Under the Yoke ") Vazoff is understood to have 
concentrated in riper form than elsewhere the peculiar gifts 



X INTRODUCTION 

of his mind and style. The first quality which strikes the 
critic in reading this very remarkable book is its freshness. 
It is not difficult to realise that, in its original form, this 
must be the earliest work of genius written in an unexhausted 
language. Nor, if Vazoff should live eighty years, and 
should write with unabated zeal and volume, is it very likely 
that he will ever recapture this first fine careless rapture. 
Under the Yoke is a historical romance, not constructed by 
an antiquary or imagined by a poet out of vague and in- 
sufficient materials accidentally saved from a distant past, 
but recorded by one who lived and fought and suffered 
through the scenes that he sets himself to chronicle. It is 
like seeing Old Mortality written by Morton, or finding the 
autobiography of Ivanhoe. It is history seen through a 
powerful telescope, with mediaeval figures crossing and 
recrossing the seventies of our own discoloured nineteenth 
century. 

When the passion which animates it is taken into con- 
sideration, the moderate and artistic tone of Under the Yoke 
is worthy of great praise. In an episode out of the epic of an 
intoxicated nation, great extravagance, great violence might 
have been expected and excused. But this tale of forlorn 
Bulgarian patriotism is constructed with delicate considera- 
tion, and passes nowhere into bombast. The author writes 
out of his heart things which he has seen and felt, but the 
moment of frenzy has gone by, and his pulse as an observer 
has recovered its precision. The passion is there still, the 
intense conviction of intolerable wrongs, scarcely to be 
wiped out with blood. He reverts to the immediate past — 

Seeing how with covered face and plumeless wings. 

With unreverted head 

Veiled, as who mourns his dead, 
Lay Freedom, couched between the thrones of kings, 

A wearied lion without lair, 
And bleeding from base wounds, and vexed with alien air — 



INTRODUCTION xi 

but already the image is settled, and has taken the monu- 
mental and marmoreal aspect of past history. 

The strenuous political fervour of this romance is relieved 
by a multitude of delicate, touching, and humorous episodes. 
The scene in the theatre, where, in the presence of the in- 
dulgent and indolent Turkish Bey, songs of Bulgarian insur- 
rection are boldly introduced into a sentimental farce, a 
spurious running translation being supplied to the unsus- 
pecting governor ; the thrilling slaughter of the bandits at 
the Mill ; the construction of the hollow cherry-tree cannon^ 
which bursts so ignominiously at the moment of trial ; the 
beautiful and heroic love-scenes between Ognianoff and 
Rada, cunningly devised and prepared as the very food of 
patriotism for youthful native readers ; the copious and 
recurrent, but never needless or wire-drawn, descriptions of 
the scenery of the Balkan valleys ; the vignettes of life in 
Bulgarian farmsteads, and cafes, and monasteries, and 
water-mills — all these are but the embroidery of a noble 
piece of imaginative texture, unquestionably one of the 
finest romances that Eastern Europe has sent into the 
West. 

Edmund Gosse 



TRANSLATOR'S NOTE 

Apart from the difficulty of rendering into English a work 
written in Bulgarian, a language which may be said to be as 
yet uncultivated and in a state of transition, which possesses 
no dictionary worthy of the name, and which, at all events in 
peasant mouths and in certain districts, is a strange jumble, 
where Turkish words, and sometimes even Greek, predominate 
— it is no easy task to bring before the English reader a more 
or less accurate picture of village life in the Balkans, where 
so much must appear strange and inexplicable. It has been 
thought best to take the fewest liberties possible with the text, 
so far as this could be done without giving the translation too 
un-English an appearance. 

Such Turkish words as it has been thought necessary to 
retain will be found explained in footnotes where they occur. 
But it may be not amiss to give a somewhat fuller explanation 
of the term " chorbaji " and the class designated by that name. 

The Turkish word chorbaji literally means a soup-man, 
one who makes, distributes, or otherwise deals with soup. In 
the hierarchy of the Janissaries the chorbaji was an officer, 
probably charged with the superintendence of the commissariat, 
whose rank equalled that of a captain. The term was also 
applied to the principal resident in Christian villages, who 
extended his hospitality to such chance strangers as might 
arrive, there being no inn accommodation then available. 
So it came to mean any comparatively wealthy and respectable 
townsman, any one who belonged to " Society.'' And as, 
not unnaturally, these were usually men of thoroughly con- 
servative notions, opposed to any upheaval which might en- 
danger their possessions and security, the chorbajis became 
as a class most unpopular among the ardent and enthusiastic 
youth who were eager for their country's emancipation. 
But M. Vazoff defends them from the sweeping imputation, 
often made against them, that they did nothing but impede and 
even betray the national movement, and at least two of his 
insurgents belong to this much-abused class. 



xiii 



CONTENTS 



PAKT I. 



CHAP. 

I. A VISITOR 

II. THE STORM 

ni. THE MONASTERY 

IV. BACK AT MARKO'S 

V. THE REST OE THE NIGHT 

VI. THE LETTER 

VII. HEROISM 

VIII. AT CHORBAJI YORDAN'S 

IX. EXPLANATIONS 

X. THE NUNNERY 

XI. rada's trials 

XII. BOICHO OGNIANOFF 

XIII. THE ROAD TO SILISTRIA 

XIV. AN UNFORESEEN MEETING 
XV. A VOICE FROM THE GRAVE 

XVI. THE THEATRICALS 
XVII. TWO STROKES OF LUCK 
XVIII. A DIFFICULT MISSION 
XIX. A DISAGREEABLE VISIT 
XX. THE FUGITIVE 
XXI. AT VERIGOVO 

XXII. AN AWKWARD PREDICAMENT 
XXIII. THE SEWING- PARTY AT ALTINOVO 
XXIV. GOD IS TOO HIGH AND THE TSAR TOO PAE 
XXV. RETRIBUTION 
XXVI. THE STORM 
XXVII. IN THE HUT 

PART II. 

I. TOGETHER AGAIN 
II. EXTREMES MEET 

III. FATHER-IN-LAW AND SON-IN-LAW 

IV. A SPY IN 1876 

V. THE CHERRY-TREE 
VI. MARKO'S PRAYER 
VII. A NATION INTOXICATED 
VIII. TROUBLE UPON TROUBLE 
IX. THE REBELLION 

X. THE BATTERY OF ZLI DOL 
XI. DISCOURAGEMENT IN THE FORT 
XII. A BAPTISM 

XIII. THE VALLEY OF THE STREMA IS FLAMES 

XIV. A FRESH ATTEMPT 
XV. AVRAM 

XVI. NIGHT 
XVII. MORNING 
XVIII. THE FIGHT 
XIX. RADA 
XX, THE TWO STREAMS 

TV 



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xvi CONTENTS 

PART III. 

CHAP. PAGE 

I. ▲ EETROSPECT 251 

II. A shepherd's hospitality 253 

III. TO THE NORTH 256 

rV. THE FLAG 262 

V. THE SLAIN 263 

VI. THE messenger 266 

VII. marika's failure 269 

VIII. THE MEADOW 273 

IX. AN ally 277 

X. love and HEROISM 281 

XI. THE BASHI-BOZOUK 284 

XII. THE HISTORY OF AN TTNREVOLTED CITY 286 

XIII. THE HISTORY CONTINUED 290 

XIV. A SERIOUS CONVERSATION 292 
XV. THE MEETING ' 295 

XVI. THE PARTING 297 

XVII. DESTRUCTION 300 



PART I 

CHAPTER I : A VISITOR 

On a delightful evening in May, Chorbaji Marko, bare- 
headed and in dressing gown and shppers, was sitting at 
supper with his family in the courtyard. A^ usual,, the table 
was laid at the foot of the vines ; on one side flowed the? 
clear, cold brooklet, which sang ni^ht and day like a 
swallow as it rippled past ; on the other, the; high, hedge* o J: 
clustering ivy made an evergreen cover for the wall all the 
year round. A lantern shone down from an overhanging 
branch of lilac, which spread its odorous blossoms over the 
heads of the assembled family. The family was a large one. 
Round Marko, his old mother and his buxom wife, were 
crowded a complete circle of children, great and small, all 
armed with knives and forks, and ready for a terrible on- 
slaught on their victuals ; they fully personified the Turkish , 
saying : *' Saman doushmanlari " (foes to their fodder), i 
From time to time their father cast an approving glance at 
the execution done by the teeth of these indefatigable 
workers, and encouraged them with a smile and a merry 
" Set to, young 'uns. Fill up the jug again, Pena." And 
the maid would go to the well, where the great wine jar 
was cooling, and fill the earthenware jug ; while Marko, 
handing it to the children, would say, " Drink, you young 
rascals ! " and so the jar would go round the table. Eyes 
brightened, cheeks sparkled, and lips parted in a smile of 
satisfaction, and Marko would turn to his wife, and seeing a 
look of disapproval on her face, would say, " Let them 
drink in my presence. I won't stint them of wine — for I 
don't want them to become drunkards when they grow up." 

Marko was a thoroughly practical man. His education 
had been but slight — he was of the old regime — but thanks 
to his natural common sense, he understood human nature 
well, and knew that people always hanker most after what 
is forbidden. For the same reason he always entrusted his 
children with the key of his money-chest, so as to prevent 
any inchnation to theft. " Gocho," he would say, " go and 
open the cypress-wood chest and bring me the money-bag "; 
or else, as he went out, " My boy, just count out twenty 
liras in gold, and give them to me when I come in." 

In spite of the then prevailing custom, which required 



2 UNDER THE YOKE 

that during meals children should remain standing till their 
elders had finished, as a mark of respect, Marko's children 
were always allowed to be seated ; nor was this rule changed 
when there were guests present. " I want them to get used 
to company," he would say, " not to run wild, and sink into 
their shoes when they see a stranger, like Anka Raspopche," 
who had beccme, proverbial for bashfuhaess of the most 
abject desciiptioii whenever she met a man with cloth 
trousers, on. 

As "he w^a;s engaged with his business all day, Marko only 
saw his whole family once a day — at supper — and it was then 
that he carried out his system of education in his own 
peculiar manner. 

Thus : " Dimitr, don't sit down before your grandmother 
takes her place — you're becoming a regular Freemason ! * 
Ilia, don't hold your knife like a butcher ; cut your meat, 
don't hack it. Gocho, what are you about ? Take off your 
fez when you sit down to supper. Why, your hair is as 
long as a Toutrakan peasant's ; go and have it cut presently, 
cossack-style. Vassili, turn in those elbows of yours — 
you're sprawling all over the table. You can do that in the 
fields, but not in here. Abraham, what do you mean by 
getting up from your supper without crossing yourself ? 
None of these Protestant * ways here, sir ! " 

But this was only when Marko was in a good temper ; if 
he was put out, no one dared to open his mouth. 

Being extremely pious and particular, Marko took the 
greatest pains to inculcate a proper rehgious spirit in his 
children. Every evening the older members of the family 
had to be present while prayers were read. Every Sunday 
or hohday, all were obliged to go to church — this was a 
rule which admitted of no exception ; any infringement led 
to a storm in the household. One Christmas Eve, Kiril 
had been told to go to confession, as he was to communicate 
the following morning. Kiril came back from church 
suspiciously early — in fact, he had not been near the Pope, 
" Did you confess ? " his father asked, incredulously. 
" Yes." " To whom ? " " To— to Father Enio," stam- 
mered Kiril. That settled it, for Father Enio was a young 
deacon who could not give absolution. Marko at once 

* The teiigas " Freemason " and " Ptotestant " are almost synonymoua 
in Bulgaria, and are applied to persons who do not comply with the 
orthodox fasts, &c. 



A VISITOR 8 

detected the lie, seized his son angrily by the ear, and so 
dragged him to the church, where he handed him over to 
old Father Stavri, with the words, " Father, just confess this 
donkey " ; and, sitting down, he waited there himseK, till 
the operation was over. He was still more severe in cases 
of playing truant from school. 

For though he had but little education himself, he loved 
learning and the learned. He was one of those numerous 
patriots whose eager zeal for the new educational movement 
has in so short a time filled Bulgaria with schools. He had 
but a dim notion of the practical benefit likely to accrue to 
a nation then consisting almost exclusively of farm labourers, 
artisans, and merchants. Marko saw with regret that there 
was neither work nor bread for the learned when they left 
school. But he felt, he understood in his heart that some 
secret force lay hidden in learning which would change the 
world. He believed in learning as he did in God — ^%vithout 
inquiry : hence he sought to advance it as far as lay in his 
power. His only ambition was to be elected a member of 
the School Committee, as indeed he invariably was, being 
universally respected and esteemed. For this modest social 
duty Marko spared neither time nor trouble ; but he 
sedulously avoided all other dealings with the authorities, 
and especially with the Konak.* 

When the table was cleared Marko rose. He was about 
fifty years of age, very tall, with a slight stoop, but still hale. 
His ruddy face, tanned by sun and wind in his frequent 
joumeyings to and from shearings and fairs, had a serious 
and somewhat stem expression even when he smiled. The 
thick eyebrows, which almost met, added to the severity 
of his mien. But a certain air of geniality, straightforward- 
ness, and sincerity toned this down, and made the whole 
sympathetic and worthy of respect. 

Marko sat down on the wooden bench among the ivy, 
and puffed at his chibouk. The children scattered round 
in free play, and the maid brought in the coffee. 

That evening Marko was in a good temper. He watched 
with pleased interest the gambols of his well-fed, rosy 
children as they filled the air with their ringing laughter. 
Every moment the scene changed, while the pattering of 
their feet and the chorus of chattering, laughter, and 

* The Konak is the official residence of the chief executive officer, 
and hence comes to be used for " the Turkish authorities." 



4 UNDER THE YOKE 

shouting grew louder and louder. It was like a swarm of 
sparrows playing in the boughs. But the innocent glad- 
some game soon assumed a more serious aspect ; the shouts 
became angrier, and little hands were raised in passionate 
expostulation : the merry concert turned into a quarrelsome 
brawl — screams were heard and tears began to flow. A 
rush was made for their parents, the assailants being eager 
to justify themselves ; the wronged pouring forth their 
complaints ; one ran to his father for protection, the other 
to her mother, to win her over as counsel for the defence. 
Then, from an impartial spectator, Marko suddenly assumed 
the role of judge. In true kadi fashion, and in defiance 
of all known legal procedure, he would listen to neither 
plaintiff nor defendant, but simply pronounced and exe- 
cuted his judgment — a slap here and there, as occasion 
called for it ; but, with the little ones — the pets — a kiss 
usually met the requirements of the case. 

So peace was restored ; but the noise had woke up the 
youngest, who was asleep in his grandmother's arms. 
** Hush, darling, hush, or the Turks will come and carry 
you off," crooned Grandma Ivanitsa, as she gently rocked 
him. This roused Marko. " Mother," he said, *' why do 
you always terrify them with the Turks ? You'll only make 
cowards of them." " Well, well, that's my way," said the 
grandmother. " Why shouldn't I ? Aren't the Turks 
terrible enough ? I've seen 'em now for over sixty years, 
and they'll be just the same when I die." " Ah ! grand- 
ma," said little Petr, " when I and brother Vassili and 
brother Ghiorghi grow up, we'll take our scythes and kill all 
the Turks." " Won't you leave a single one of them, 
dear ? " 

" How is little Asen ? " asked Marko of his wife, as she 
came out of the house. " He's quieter now — he's fallen 
asleep," she answered. " There, again, what business had 
he to be looking at that kind of thing ? " grumbled the 
grandmother ; " there he is now, ill in bed." Marko 
frowned, but said nothing. It should be mentioned that 
Asen had been taken with convulsions through looking out 
of the school window while they were bringing in the head- 
less corpse of Gencho, the painter's child, from the fields. 
Marko hurriedly changed the conversation. " That will do, 
children ; I want your elder brother to tell us a story : 
tifter that you shall all sing a song. Come along, Vassili, 



A VISITOR 5 

tell us what the teacher taught you to-day . " " A lesson out 
of the History of the World." " Well, tell us all about it." 
" The war for the Spanish Succession." " What, them 
Spanishers ? No, no, my boy, that's no good ; tell us some- 
thing about Russia." " What ? " asked Vassili. " Why, 
something about Ivan the Cruel, or Bonaparte when 

he burned Moscow, or \ " Marko did not finish 

his sentence. Something rustled at the dark end of 
the yard ; tiles fell with a clatter from the wall. Hens 
and chickens woke up in terror, and rushed hither and 
.thither with despairing cluck. The servant who was 
taking in the washing hung out to dry shrieked '' Thieves ! 
thieves ! " 

The courtyard became the scene of the wildest confusion. 
The women rushed to the house and hid themselves ; the 
children vanished ; but Marko, who was no coward, rose to 
his feet, and after peering into the darkness from whence 
the noise had proceeded, ran into the house, from which he 
immediately emerged with a pistol in each hand, and 
hurried towards the stable. 

This act — ^perhaps not the most prudent one possible — 
was effected so rapidly that his wife had no time to seek to 
restrain him. All that she did was to raise her voice in 
entreaty, but even this was drowned by the angry barking 
of the house dog, who had halted, terrified and enraged, by 
the fountain. 

For there really was a stranger there in the shadow 
between the stable and the fowl-house, but the darkness 
was so thick that nothing could be seen, being still more 
impervious to Marko's eyes owing to the haste with which 
he had rushed from out of the light of the lantern. 

Marko hastened to the stable, caressed the horse so as 
to pacify him, and peered through the lattices of the 
window. Whether his eyes had become used to the dark- 
ness, or whether it was fancy, he saw in the corner, by the 
window itseK, something upright, like a man, but quite 
motionless. 

Marko cocked his pistol, leant forward, and cried in loud, 
stern tones, " Don't stir, or else you're a dead man." He 
waited a moment with his finger on the trigger. 

" Gospodin * Marko," whispered a voice. 

" Who's there ? *' asked Marko in Bulgarian. 
* Gospodin is Mr. 



6 UNDER THE YOKE 

" Don't be afraid ; it's a friend." And the stranger 
approached nearer to the window. Marko could now see 
his figure clearly. 

' ' Who are you ? " asked Marko suspiciously as he lowered 
his pistol. 

' Ivan, son of old Manola Kralich, of Widdin." 

" I don't know you. What are you doing there ? " 

"I'll tell you directly, sir," answered the stranger, lowering 
his voice. 

" I can't see you. Where have you come from ? " 

" I'll tell you, sir ; from far away." 

" Where from ? What do you mean by far away ? " 

" From very far away, Marko," whispered the stranger 
almost inaudibly. 

" From where ? " 

*' From Diarbekir ! " * murmured the stranger. 

The word had an electric effect on Marko' s memory. 
He remembered that one of old Manola's sons had been 
transported to Diarbekir. Manola had long had busi- 
ness dealings with him, and had rendered him many a 
service. 

He went out of the stable, approached his nocturnal 
visitor in the darkness, took him by the hand, and led him 
through the stable into the shed. 

" What, Ivancho, is that you ? I remember you now, 
my lad. You can stop here overnight, and we'll look after 
you in the morning," said Marko, in a low tone. 

" Thank you, Marko. You're the only person I know 
here," whispered Kralich. 

" Don't talk of it. Your father has no better friend than 
me. Make yourself at home here. Did anyone see you ? " 

" I don't think so ; there was no one in the street when 
I came in." 

" Came in — yours is a nice way of coming in — over the 
wall ! Never mind. Old Manola's son is always a welcome 
guest here, especially when he comes from that distance. 
Are you hungry, Ivancho ? " 

*' No — thanks, sir ; I'm not hungry." 

" Come, come, you must take a bit of supper. Let me 
go and quiet my people dovm first, and then I'll come back 
and we'll talk things over. God bless you, my boy, I might 

* The fortress of Diarbekir, in the heart of Asia Minor, was much 
used as a place of transportation for political criminals. 



THE STORM 7 

have done you a mischief," said Marko, unloading his 
pistols. 

" Forgive me, Marko ; I acted very foolishly." 

" Stop there till I come." And Marko went out and 
closed the stable door. 

He found his wife and mother fainting from fright, and 
when they saw him safe and sound they shrieked and threw 
their arms round him, as if to prevent him from going out 
again. Marko reassured them laughingly ; he had seen 
no one in the courtyard — ^probably some cat or dog had 
knocked one of the tiles down, and that had frightened silly 
Pena. 

"As it is, we've roused the whole neighbourhood," he 
said, hanging his pistols up again on the wall. 

The family calmed down once more. 

Old mother Ivanitsa called out to the servant-maid : 
" Pena, my girl, botheration take you ! You've given us a 
proper fright. Go and put the children to bed at once." 

Just then there came a loud knock at the door. Marko 
went into the court and asked, " Who's there ? " 

" Open, guv 'nor," was the answer in Turkish. 

" The on-bashi,"* muttered Marko uneasily. " We must 
hide him in some other place." And taking no notice of a 
fresh knock at the door, he hurried to the stable. 

" Ivancho ! " he called in the shed. 

There was no answer. 

" He must have fallen asleep. Ivancho ! " he repeated, 
louder. 

No one replied. 

" Poor fellow ! he must have run away," thought Marko. 
noticing for the first time that the stable door was open. 
" What will become of the lad now ? " he said to himself, 
anxiously. 

To make sure, he called again once or twice, and as no 
reply came he returned to the door, the knocking at which 
had become furious, and threatened to break it in. 

CHAPTER II : THE STORM 

In truth, at the first knock at the door, and without knowing 
why or how, Ivan Kralich had clambered hurriedly over the 
wall and leapt into the street. For a few moments he 

* Lit. decurion, a corporal of Zapti^B (police). 



8 UNDER THE YOKE 

stood bewildered. Then he looked carefully round him, 
but there was nothing save impenetrable darkness. Black 
storm clouds were already covering the sky ; the cool even- 
ing breeze had become a chill blast, which whistled shrilly 
through the empty streets. Kralich turned down the first 
of these and followed it hurriedly, guiding himself by the 
walls. Every door and window was closed and dark. Not 
a single light gleamed through the shutters — ^not a sign of 
life anywhere. The hamlet was as still as death, like all 
country towns long before midnight. He kept on at random 
for some time, hoping to find his way out into the open 
country. Suddenly he started and stopped under a broad- 
spreading roof. His eye had discerned dark figures moving. 
Kralich stood still and turned with precaution to the door 
before which he found himself. A growl, followed by an 
angry bark, made him start back. He had woke up the 
house-dog, who was asleep inside the porch. His move- 
ments and the barking betrayed him. The night patrol 
stopped, weapons clashed, and " Halt ! " was cried in 
Turkish. At moments of unavoidable danger a man's 
presence of mind deserts him, like a coward, and only a 
blind instinct of seK-preservation takes the place of all his 
moral faculties. Oue then has, so to speak, no longer a 
head, but only one's hands for self-defence and one's legs 
for flight. Kralich had only to turn back and the darkness 
would at once have put its impenetrable barrier between 
him and the patrol. But he rushed straight at it — ran like 
the whirlwind right through the police — and fled. The 
patrol followed, and the streets rang with shouts and foot- 
steps. Amongst other exclamations was heard the loud 
voice of the Bulgarian constable {pandour), " Stop, con- 
found you ! we are going to fire ! " But Kralich fled with- 
out turning back. A few carbines were discharged after 
him, but without effect — ^the darkness saved him. His 
flight was not so successful, for he soon felt some one grasp 
him by the sleeve. He hurried on, managing to free himself 
of his coat, which he left in the hands of his pursuers. Two 
more shots were fired after him. Kralich continued to fly, 
without knowing whither he was going : he scarcely knew 
what he was doing : his legs tottered under him from 
weariness. At every step he was ready to fall and remain 
on the ground. Suddenly a blinding flash of lightning 
illuminated the darkness, and Kralich saw that he was in 



THE STORM 9 

the fields and no longer pursued. Then he threw himself 
doA\Ti, panting, under a wahiut tree, to rest for a moment. 
The mountain blast was blowing hard, the rustling of the 
leaves mingled with its roar and the dull rumbling of the 
thunder. Soon the storm came perilously near ; the flashes 
became more frequent, and more than one bolt fell close 
by the fugitive. The short rest and cold breeze restored 
Kralich's strength. He saw it would soon rain, and pressed 
onward to find some refuge from the storm. The trees 
round him soughed mournfully, their lofty summits bent 
under the force of the wind, grass and weeds waved to and 
fro, and all nature seemed on the alert and quivering with 
terror. Big drops of rain fell here and there, and struck 
the ground like bullets. Another flash of lightning lit up 
the sky behind the Balkan, followed by a deep roll of 
thunder that seemed to rend the heavens in two. Heavy 
rain poured from the leaden firmament ; flash after flash 
cleft the clouds and gave fantastic outlines to the trees and 
rocks. Those momentary glimpses of scenery, at once 
swallowed up in deep darkness, resembled some wonderful 
and fearful panorama. There was a wild beauty in the 
strife of the elements — in the conflict of the horizons — the 
infernal illumination of the abysses ; a majestic spectacle, in 
which the wonderful combination of the boundless with the 
mysterious was blended in an unearthly demoniacal har- 
mony. In storms nature attains themes of sublimes t poetry. 

Though dripping with water and blinded by the light- 
ning, while the crashing thunder still rang in his ears, 
Kralich wandered on at random among the fields, orchards, 
and gardens, where no refuge was to be had. At last 
the plashing of a waterfall overcame all other sounds and 
reached his ears. It was a mill-stream. On a sudden a 
new flash disclosed to him the roof of the mill, nestling 
among drooping willows. Kralich stopped under the eaves. 
He pushed at the door, which opened. He entered. The 
mill was dark and silent. Outside, the storm had calmed 
down : the rain was slowly ceasing, and the moon began to 
appear behind the clefts in the clouds. The night had 
cleared up. These rapid changes in weather are usual 
only in May. 

Soon steps were heard approaching from outside, and 
Kralich hastened to hide in a narrow space between the 
granary and the wall. 



10 UNDER THE YOKE 

" There now — the wind has blown the door open," said 
a rough voice in the darkness, and a petroleum lamp was at 
once lighted. 

Kralich, hidden in his corner, stooped and saw the 
miller, a tall gaunt peasant, and with him a barefooted girl 
in a short blue dress, probably his daughter, who was 
closing and trying to bolt the door. She was about 
thirteen or fourteen years old, but still quite a child, and 
her black eyes peeped out with childish innocence from 
under her long lashes. Despite her neglected dress, her 
figure gave promise of future gracefulness. She seemed to 
have come from some mill close at hand, for they were 
dry. The miller added : 

" It's a good thing we turned off the channel, or this 
storm would have smashed it. Old Stancho's stories 
never come to an end. It's a blessing no robber came 
in." He looked round him. " Now, Marika, you go off 
to bed. I wonder why your mother sends you here ? 
Only for me to have the more anxiety," added the miller, 
hammering down the plank in the channel, and humming 
a tune to himself. Marika, without waiting any longer, 
went to the far end of the mill, said her prayers, shook 
out some blankets and lay down to sleep : in a moment 
she was slumbering peacefully. 

Kralich watched the scene with lively curiosity. The 
miller's rough but kindly face inspired him with confidence. 
It was impossible that a traitor's soul could lurk behind 
that straightforward and honest countenance. He decided 
to come out and ask him for aid and counsel. But at that 
very minute the miller stopped humming, drew himself up, 
and listened to sounds of voices outside. A loud knock was 
heard at the door. 

" Open the door, miller," cried some one in Turkish. 

He went to the door, fastened the bolt securely, and re- 
turned pale with terror. 

The hammering at the door continued, and a fresh 
summons was made, followed by the bark of a dog. 

" Turks out hunting," muttered the miller, whose ear had 
recognised the bark of a greyhound. " What do the brutes 
want ? It must be Yemeksiz Pehlivan." 

Yemeksiz Pehlivan, the wildest of midday and midnight 
marauders, was the terror of the neighbourhood. A fort- 
night before he had murdered the whole family of Gancho 



THE STORM 11 

Daghli in the village of Ivanovo. They said — and not 
without some ground — that it was he who had cut off the 
child's head which had been brought to the to\\Ti the day 
before. 

The door shook under the knocking. 

The miller remained for a moment plunged in thought, 
clasping his head with both hands, in doubt as to what 
course he should follow. A cold sweat broke out on his 
forehead. Suddenly he moved to a dusty shelf, from under 
which he took an axe, and then went to the door, which was 
nearly beaten in by the knocking. But his momentary 
decision vanished as soon as he glanced at his daughter. 
A terrible hopelessness, torture, suffering were depicted on 
his face. The paternal feeling overcame his perturbed con- 
science. He thought of the Bulgarian proverb : " The 
sword does not strike the bowed head," and decided, in- 
stead of resistance, to beg for mercy — from the merciless. 
He hurriedly replaced the axe behind the granary, where 
Kralich was hidden, covered up Marika carefully, and 
opened the door. 

On the threshold stood two armed Turks in hunting 
costume. One held a greyhound in a leash. The first, who 
was in truth the bloodthirsty Yemeksiz Pehlivan, cast an 
inquisitive glance round the mill, and entered. He was 
tall, lame, cadaverously thin, and beardless. His face was 
not as terrible as his name and his deeds would imply ; 
but his small, grey, almost colourless eyes twinkled with 
evil cunning, like a monkey's. His companion was a short, 
thick-set, muscular man, with a face of bestial expression, 
in which the lowest animal instincts and ferocity were 
apparent ; this man followed with the greyhound, and stood 
by the door. 

Yemeksiz Pehlivan looked angrily at the miller. 

The two men took off their dripping overcoats. 

" Why didn't you open, miller ? " he asked. The miller 
muttered some excuse, bowing to the ground, and casting an 
uneasy glance at the end of the mill where Marika lay 
sleeping. 

" Are you alone here ? " and Yemeksiz looked round. 

" Quite alone," was the hurried replj^ ; then, thinking a 
lie was useless, the miller added, " and the child is asleep 
over there." 

Just then Marika moved, and turned her face towards 



12 UNDER THE YOKE 

them. The pale light of the lamp shone on her white 
throat. The Turks cast eager glances at the sleeping girl. 
A cold sweat moistened the miller's forehead. 

Yemeksiz turned to him with an assumed kindliness. 
"Guv'nor," he said, "sorry to trouble you. Go and buy 
us a bottle of raki." 

" But, Pehhvan Aga, all the shops are shut now — it's mid- 
night," answered the miller, trembling at the terrible idea 
of leaving Marika alone in such company. 

The cripple answered : "Go along with you ; no shop 
would refuse to serve you if you say it's for me. I want you 
to treat us — that's the way to make friends." 

He said this in jest, being certain of obtaining his end. 
He did not even seek to hide his intention from the unhappy 
father. 

Yemeksiz glanced at the sleeping child in her careless 
and innocent attitude . Seeing that the miller did not move, 
he began to grow impatient, but still retained his assumed 
gentleness, and said quietly : 

" Mashallah ! that's a pretty girl of yours, guv'nor. Off 
you go ; we're your guests, you know — you must treat us. 
You fetch the raki, and we'll look after the mill." Then he 
added in a threatening tone : " Don't you know Yemeksiz 
Pehhvan ? " 

The miller had understood from the first the abominable 
design screened by that shallow trick. His simple, honest 
nature revolted at the thought. But he was caught in the 
trap — he was alone against two armed men. To resist was 
foolish and useless ; his death, which was now a matter of 
indifference to him, could not save his child. He tried 
again by prayers to soften his enemies : 

" Gentlemen, I'm an old man — take pity on my poor old 
bones. I'm worn out by my day's work : let me sleep in 
peace. Don't blacken my face."* 

He was addressing deaf ears. The lame Turk exclaimed : 
"" Come, come, man, we're thirsty — you talk too much. 
Don't you live in the mill ? Go for the raki ! " And he 
pushed him to the door. 

" I won't leave my mill at this time of night ! Let me 
alone ! " said the miller, hoarsely. 

The two Turks then threw aside their feigned gentle- 

* I.e., " Don't bring disgrace upon me " — a common oriental ex- 
pression. 



THE STORM 13 

ness of manner, and their eyes flashed furiously on the 
miller. 

" What ! he shows his tusks, the pig ! " cried Yemeksiz, 
drawing his gataghan, while his eyes became bloodshot. 

" You may kill me, but I won't leave my child alone," 
said the miller, humbly but decidedly. 

Yemeksiz stood up. '* Topal Hassan," he said, " throw 
the dog out — I don't want to dirty my knife." 

The other rushed at the miller, seized him, and forced 
him to the door, whence he tried to spurn him with his foot. 
The miller rose to his feet and sprang in again, crying 
" Mercy ! mercy ! " 

The noise woke Marika, who stood up in terror. When 
she saw the Turk's drawn sword she shrieked and fled to 
her father. 

"Mercy, mercy, gentlemen!" cried the unfortunate 
father, clasping his child in his arms. 

At a sign from Yemeksiz the powerful Topal Hassan 
threw himseK like a tiger on the miller, seized his hands, 
and bound them. 

" That's it, Topal Hassan; let's tie up the old rat of a 
miller ; since he wants to stop here, let him stay and see 
the show — that's what a fool like that deserves. He shall 
remain tied up, and when we set fire to the mill it'll be our 
turn to look on and enjoy ourselves." 

And the two brigands, paying no attention to his cries, 
forced the miller up to a beam and began to tie him with 
ropes. 

The miller, frenzied with terror at the thought of what 
he was going to see, roared for help like a wild beast ; but 
no help was to be hoped for in that lonely place. 

Marika opened the door and began to shriek and wail. 
But only the echoes replied. 

" Here, miss, you come in. We want you," cried 
Yemeksiz, as he fetched her in. " Help, help ! " cried the 
miller in despair. " Is there no one ? Marika, come, 
dear," he shouted in his frenzy — calHng on his child for 
help. 

Krahch had all the while been watching the scene 
motionless ; his legs trembled unnaturally, his hair stood 
on end, and the cold dew was on his face. 

All that he had seen and undergone that evening, from 
leaving Marko's house till that moment, was so strange and 



14 UNDER THE YOKE 

fearful that it seemed to him like a dream. The whistling 
of the bullets, the roar of the thunder were still echoing in 
his ears. His thoughts were confused. At first he had 
made sure the Turks had come for him, and that his fate 
was sealed. The conviction of his utter helplessness had 
quenched all his energy, and left him only enough to give 
himseK up to the Turks, so as to save the miller. But now 
that he saw that he was to be a spectator of something far 
more terrible, and when he heard the miller call Marika to 
his assistance, a blind rage and despair fired his very soul. 
He had never looked on blood before, but the Turks 
seemed to him like flies. Fatigue, weakness, doubt — all 
disappeared. He stretched out his hand mechanically and 
seized the axe ; he passed along mechanically, stooping 
behind the wheat-sacks ; rose up, pale as death, rushed at 
Yemeksiz, who stood with his back to him, and plunged the 
axe into his body. All this he did as in a dream. 

The Turk fell to the ground without a groan. 

At sight of this sudden and dangerous foe, Topal Hassan 
left the rope with which he was fastening up the miller, drew 
his pistol, and fired it at Kralich. The mill was filled with 
smoke, the action of the shot put out the lamp, and all were 
plunged in darkness. Then in the dark began a terrible 
struggle, with the hands, nails, feet, teeth. The combatants, 
at first two, but soon three in number, rolled in the dark 
mth wild cries and groans, mingled with the loud bark of 
the dog. Topal Hassan, as strong as a bullock, resisted 
desperately his two antagonists, who on their part knew they 
must conquer or meet a fate which was only too certain. 

When the lamp shone again, Hassan was writhing in his 
death-agony. Kralich had during the fight managed to get 
hold of his knife and plunge it in his breast. The two 
bodies were weltering in blood. 

Then the miller rose and looked with wonder at the un- 
known assistant who had come to his rescue. Before him 
stood a tall young man, deadly pale, thin, with piercing 
black eyes, long shaggy hair, covered with dust ; his coat 
was torn, stained with mud, and wet ; his waistcoat had lost 
its buttons, and showed that he had no shirt ; his trousers 
were in rags, and his boots scarcely held together. In a 
word, it was a man either just out of gaol or on his way 
thither. The miller took him as such. But he cast a look 
of sympathy on him, and said earnestly ; 



THE STORM 15 

" Sir, I don't know who you are or how you come to be 
here. But as long as I live I can't pay you back for this. 
You've saved me from death and from worse than death ; 
you've spared my grey hairs from shame. May God ble&s 
and reward you. The whole nation will honour you for 
what you've done. Do you know who he is ? (pointing to 
Yemeksiz). He's made mother and daughter weep before 
now. Now the world's free of the monster. God bless 
you, my son ! " 

Kralich listened with tears in his eyes to these simple 
and sincere words — then, much moved, he said : 

" I haven't done much, father ; we have killed two, but 
there are thousands and thousands more such monsters. The 
Bulgarian nation can only free itself and live in peace if all 
seize their axes and cut down the enemy. But tell me, 
where are we to bury these bodies, so as to leave no trace ? " 

"I've got a grave ready for the unbelievers : only help 
me to carry them out," said the old man. 

Then the two men, between whom that night of blood 
had placed an eternal bond of union, carried the corpses 
out to an old pit behind the mill, and threw them in, cover- 
ing them over carefully with earth so as to leave nothing 
showing. On returning to the door with the pick-axe and 
shovel, something white bounded round them. 

" Ah, the dog ! " cried Kralich ; "it will lurk round here 
and betray us. I must knock it over the head," and he 
struck it with the axe. The dog fell yelping by the water. 
Kralich pushed it into the mill-stream with his axe, and it 
sank there. 

'• We ought to have buried it by the other two dogs," said 
the miller. 

They removed the blood-stains from their clothes, and 
covered the ground over with leaves. 

" Why, what's that running from you ? " asked the miller, 
seeing that Kralich's hand was bleeding. 

" Nothing ; only where the brute bit me while I was 
stabbing him in the heart." 

" Let me bind it up for you at once," said the miller, 
tying it up with a rag. Then, leaving his hand, he looked 
him straight in the face, and said : 

" I beg your pardon, my son, but where do you come 
from ? " And he cast another look of surprise at the 
stranger. 



16 UNDER THE YOKE 

" I'll tell you later on, father ; and all I can say is that 
I'm a Bulgarian, and a good Bulgarian. Have no doubts on 
my score." 

" My God ! I should think you were. You're a real Bul- 
garian and no mistake, and for such as you I'd give my life." 

" Tell me now where can I get clothes and find a shelter 
for the night ? " 

" Let's go to the monastery to Deacon Vikenti. He's a 
relation of mine. That man has done no end of good. 
And he's a real Bulgarian too. Come along ; we'll all sleep 
there. It's a good thing no one saw us." Father Stoyan 
was mistaken : behind the walnut-tree the moon now showed 
a tall human figure which had witnessed, motionless, the 
burial of the two Turks. But neither he nor Krahch had 
noticed it. 

Soon after, the miUer, Kralich, and Marika (who during 
the struggle had hidden herself behind an elm -tree and was 
sobbing piteously) started towards the monastery, the high 
walls of which, standing out in the moonlight, shone forth 
against the dark branches of the walnuts and poplars. Be- 
hind them the unknown figure also proceeded towards the 
monastery. 

CHAPTER III : THE MONASTERY 
They passed through a field, where great boulders of rock 
were scattered here and there, under the branches of the 
century-old walnuts, with their trunks worn and rotting 
away with age : soon the high walls of the monastery came 
clearly into view. In the mysterious softness of the moon- 
Hght it resembled an old Gothic castle, with fantastically 
carved gables. 

Some years before, the old building had rejoiced in a 
gigantic pine-tree, which sheltered the church with its high- 
spreading branches — the home of a thousand feathered 
songsters. But a storm had uprooted the pine and the 
church tower, and a new tower, which had been erected in 
its place, with a lofty new-fashioned cupola, made a strange 
contrast to the dilapidated old remains of a past age : it 
gave one the same shock that is produced by a piece of 
fresh white paper stuck on a time-worn parchment. The 
old church and tower have fallen under the assaults of time 
and destiny, and henceforth the monastery has become 



THE MONASTERY 17 

sombre : the eye no longer follows the towering pine to the 
clouds : the soul no longer draws pious inspirations from 
the paintings on the walls representing saints, archangels, 
holy fathers, and martyrs, defiled and with their eyes put 
out by the Kirjalis and Dehbashis.* 

Our trio passed behind the monastery and stopped by 
the back wall : this was easier of access, and nearer to- 
Deacon Vikenti's cell. Moreover, there were no monastery 
dogs there to bark at them, nor servants to ask unnecessary 
questions. 

The mountain waterfalls plashed hard by and filled the 
neighbourhood with a wild echo. 

Some one had to climb over the wall, so as to fetch the 
ladder from inside and pass it to the others. This duty 
naturally fell to Kralich's lot, he having begun that evening 
by scaling Marko's wall. 

The three clambered quickly over the wall, at the risk of 
a shot from the warlike higoumen,f in case he should happen 
to see them from his window. They entered the small back- 
yard, which communicated with the great quadrangle by a 
door closed on the inside. The deacon's cell, which was 
on the ground floor, looked on to the back-yard. They 
stopped under the window, where a light was still burning. 

" Vikenti's still reading," said the miller, raising himself 
on tip -toe and looking in. He knocked at the window. It 
was opened, and a voice asked : 

" What, Stoyan, is that you ? Whatever do you want ? " 

" Give me the door-key, deacon, and I'll tell you. Are 
you alone ? " 

'• Yes ; everybody's asleep. Here you are." 

The miller disappeared in the shadow, and in two or 
three minutes reappeared and led Kralich and his daughter 
into the inner quadrangle, locking the door behind him. 

The great courtyard, when they entered, was quite still. 
The silence was broken only by the monotonous and drowsy 
gurgling of the spring, which resembled the last groan of a 
dying man. Dark rows of covered verandahs, silent and 
deserted, rose all round the quadrangle. Black cypress- 
trees soared high above, like gigantic phantoms. The 
deacon's cell opened, and his nocturnal visitors entered. 

* Brigand bands that infested the Balkans early in the past century, 
t The Higoumen (from the Greek ijyovfi^vos) is the abbot of a monas- 
tery. 

B 



18 UNDER THE YOKE 

The deacon, who was quite a lad, with a lively counte- 
nance, black intelligent eyes, and a sprouting beard, received 
Kralich in a friendly manner, his cousin's hurried explana- 
tions having been enough to assure him of the stranger's 
quality. Indeed, he gazed with surprise and respect at the 
hero who had accounted for the two ruffians as easily as one 
wrings the neck of a couple of chickens, and had saved the 
old man and his daughter. The deacon's honest soul recog- 
nised at once in the stranger a nature as noble as it was 
heroic. Old Stoyan had given him a hurried and confused 
account of the affair in the mill, and had been loud in his 
deUverer's praise. Vikenti observed his utter exhaustion 
and pallor, and proposed to take him to a cell where he 
might find shelter for the night. So they proceeded thither. 
The deacon, with a bundle of blankets and clothes under 
his arm, led the way through the slumbering courtyard ; 
they reached the staircase of the opposite building, con- 
sisting of three storeys of covered verandahs, and mounted 
it. They passed through corridors and fresh flights of stairs 
to the topmost storey. Though they stepped with precau- 
tion, every stair creaked under their feet, as happens in all 
empty wooden houses. Vikenti lighted a candle, and the 
cell into which they had entered was exposed to view. It 
was bare and cheerless enough to look at, containing only a 
bed with a straw pallet and a jug of water. It was more like 
a prison cell than a bedroom, but Kralich just then desired 
nothing better. After some conversation as to the events 
in the mill, Vikenti prepared to say good-night. 

" You are worn out, and need rest as soon as possible ; 
so I will not weary you with any questions. There is no 
need. The deed of heroism which you have accomplished 
to-night tells me all. We shall meet to-morrow, and I will 
only say now : don't worry yourself about anything. Deacon 
Vikenti is at your entire disposal. Good-night." And so 
saying he stretched out his hand to take leave. 

Kralich seized and held it. 

" No," said he, " you have given me your hospitality 
blindly, and have exposed yourself to danger for my sake. 
You ought to know who I am. My name is Ivan Kralich ! " 

" What, Ivan Kralich, the exile ? Why, when did they 
release you ? " asked the astonished deacon. 

" Release me ? I escaped from the fortress of Diarbekir. 
I'm a runaway." 



THE MONASTERY 19 

Vikenti pressed his hand, and greeted him : 

" Welcome here, KraUch : you are a still dearer guest to 
me now. Bulgaria requires her good sons. There is much 
work to be done — much work. The tyranny of the Turks is 
unbearable and the national dissatisfaction has reached its 
utmost limit. We must get ready. Stay with us, Gospedin 
Kralich, no one will know you here. Stay and work with us 
— will you ? " asked the deacon, much excited. 

" With all my heart, Father Vikenti." 

" To-morrow we will talk the matter over in detail. Here 
you are in complete safety. I have hidden Levski * in that 
cell before now. No one comes here — there is more danger 
from ghosts than from human beings. Good-night," said 
the deacon, in jest, as he left the room. 

" Good-night, father," answered Kralich, shutting the 
door. 

He undressed quickly, lay down, and blew out the candle ; 
but he lay tossing on his bed for many an hour before sleep 
came to his weary eyelids. Fearful memories troubled his 
spirit. Before his fancy there passed one by one the various 
scenes and forms of that night, with repulsive and savage 
accuracy. This torture lasted for a long time. At last 
nature conquered : his physical and moral strength, ex- 
hausted to the utmost, yielded to the imperious necessity of 
repose. He fell asleep. But on a sudden he started and 
opened his eyes in the darkness. He heard the slow and 
heavy tread of some one walking in the passage. Then a 
sound of singing was heard, which sounded almost like a 
wail of sorrow. The steps came nearer, and the unfamiliar 
singing became louder. It was at times like a loud wailing, 
at others like a mournful dirge. Kjralich thought that the 
sounds came from somewhere else, and that it was the 
surrounding silence which made them seem so near and 
ghastly. But no — the steps were hard by, in the corridor. 
Suddenly a dark figure appeared at the window and peeped 
in. Krahch, startled, fixed his eyes on the apparition, and 
with terror saw that it was making wild, weird gestures with 
its hands, as if beckoning to him. All this was clear in the 
semi-darkness. Kralich could not withdraw his eyes from 
the window. He began to think that the figure was that 
of Yemeksiz Pehlivan, whom he had killed. Then he 

* A noted worker in the cause of Bulgarian liberty, who was eventually 
taken prisoner by the Turks, and hanged at Sofia in 1873. 



20 UNDER THE YOKE 

thought he must be dreaming, and rubbed his eyes. Again 
he looked — ^and found the shadow still at the window, 
peering in. 

Kjalich was not superstitious, but this deserted building, 
with its deathlike silence and darkness, had inspired him 
involuntarily with terror. He thought of the deacon's 
jesting remark about ghosts, and the place seemed to him 
doubly uncanny. But suddenly he felt ashamed of himself. 
Groping for his revolver, he grasped it, rose, opened the 
door quietly, and went out barefoot into the corridor. The 
tall mysterious figure was still walking and singing in its 
strange fashion. Kralich approached it boldly. The singing 
phantom, instead of disappearing, as in stories, shrieked 
with terror, because Kralich himself, in his night-shirt, was 
far more like a ghost. 

" Who are you ? " asked the new ghost of the old, seizing 
him by the garment. 

Fear closed the unhappy being's lips. He could only 
make the sign of the cross, gibbering, and shaking his head 
like an idiot. Kralich at once understood that such he was, 
and let him go. 

Vikenti had forgotten to warn his guest of the nightly 
wanderings of the harmless idiot Mouncho, who had for 
years lived in the monastery. It was he who, unobserved, 
had witnessed the burial of the Turks. 



CHAPTER IV : BACK AT MARKO'S 

When Marko opened his door on the previous night, after 
KraUch's escape, he encountered on the threshold the 
on-bashi and his zapties, who entered with precaution. 

" What's up here, Marko Chorbaji ? " asked the on- 
bashi. 

Marko quietly explained that nothing was the matter, 
but that the servant had somehow taken fright. The on- 
bashi at once expressed himself satisfied with this meagre 
explanation, and went out in glee at having got off an un- 
pleasant job. 

Just as Marko was shutting his door, his neighbour 
appeared. " All over, neighbour ? " 

" What, Ivancho ! Come in and we'll have a cup of 
coffee." 

" Good evening, Marko. Is little Asen better ? " asked 



BACK AT MARKO'S 21 

a tall youth in the middle of the road, who was hurriedly 
approaching. 

" Come in, come in, doctor." And Marko led them into 
the room, which was at once brightly lit up with two sper- 
maceti candles fixed in shining brass candlesticks. 

The guest-chamber into which they entered was a small 
room, but bright and airy. It was furnished and orna- 
mented in the unassuming and original manner which even 
now holds sway in some of our provincial towns. The floor 
was covered with bright carpets, and the two divans \n ith 
scarlet rugs, all of home make. Against one of the walls 
stood an iron stove, which was lighted only in winter, but 
was not taken away in summer, as being one of the orna- 
ments of the room. Opposite it, on the eikonostasis,* where 
a light burned continually, were nailed eikons, over which 
hung sacred prints from Mount Athos, a pious gift from 
pilgrims. The eikons were very old paintings, which made 
them all the more precious to Grandmother Ivanitsa, as old 
arms are to collectors. One of them, of great antiquity, 
enjoyed the most reverential attention of the old lady, who 
asserted with pride that it had been painted by her great- 
grandfather. Father Hajji Arseni, who had accomplished 
the miraculous work of art with his feet — an assertion no 
one ever ventured to controvert, so confidently did she 
make it. Behind the eikonostasis was fastened a bunch of 
dried cornflowers, which had been sprinkled with holy 
water, and a willow branch from the decorations of last Palm 
Sunday. The presence of these in a house was an infallible 
preservative of health and prosperity. Round the walls ran 
shelves filled with porcelain dishes and cups — the inevitable 
decoration of every house worthy of respect — and the 
comers were furnished with triangular brackets on which 
stood flower- vases. Chibouks, as an article of use, had 
long since gone out of fashion, but these were ranged against 
the wall, with their yellow amber mouthpieces and inlaid 
bowls. Marko, for old tradition's sake, kept one chibouk 
for his private use. The wall opposite the windows played 
the important part of picture-gallery. In all, it contained 
six lithographs, in gilt frames, brought from Wallachia. 
Their strange selection bore witness to the easy-going taste 
of the time in matters artistic. Some represented scenes 

* The place where the sacred pictures or eikons are placed against 
the wall. 



22 UNDER THE YOKE 

from the internal wars of Germany — one was a picture of 
Abd-ul-Mejid on horseback, with his suite. The next 
portrayed episodes of the Crimean War : the battle of the 
Alma, of Eupatoria, the raising of the siege of Silistria in 
1852. The last picture of all represented the Russian 
generals in the war, all depicted down to the knees only. 
pPope Stavri asserted that their legs had been cut ofP by the 
lEnghsh cannon, and on the strength of this Grandmother 
/ivanitsa always called them " the martyrs." " Who has 
^ been touching the martyrs ? " she would ask angrily of the 
children. By the side of the martyrs stood a large Dutch 
clock, the cham and weights of which reached down to the 
back of the divan. This aged timepiece had long since 
become past work : its springs were worn out, its works 
distorted, its face obliterated, and its hands broken and 
twisted. It was like a living ruin. But Marko prolonged 
its life at the cost of great efforts and much attention. No 
one but he was allowed to touch it ; he would mend it, take 
it to pieces, wind it up, and clean it with a feather dipped 
in oil, thus giving it a new lease of life for a few days, after 
which it would again come to a standstill. Marko jestingly 
called it his " consumptive patient," but he and all the 
family were so accustomed to it that the whole house 
seemed silent when its creaking pendulum stopped. When- 
ever Marko took hold of its chains to wind it up, the sufferer 
vented from its inmost recesses such weird and wrathful 
sounds that the cat fled in terror. 

Two photographs of family groups on the same wall 
completed the treasures of the picture-gallery, which with 
the clock constituted a museum. 

Doctor Sokoloff was a young man of twenty-eight, lively, 
with bright ruddy hair and blue eyes, an open, simple 
expression of countenance, and a somewhat boisterous, 
easy-going, and eccentric manner. He had served as 
veterinary surgeon in a Turkish regiment on the Montene- 
grin frontier, and had acquired a thorough knowledge of the 
language and customs of the Turks — he drank raki and 
fraternised with the on-bashi every afternoon, but at night 
terrified him by firing a revolver up his chimney : at present 
he was devoting much of his time to the education of a 
bear. The better-class Bulgarians looked somewhat ask- 
ance at him, and placed their trust rather in the Greek 
apothecary Yaneli ; but he was a popular favourite with all 



BACK AT MARKO'S 23 

the youth of the town on account of his gay, open nature, 
and his fervent patriotism. He was always the prime 
mover in social festivities and " Committee " * plots, and, 
indeed, spent most of his time in these two occupations. 
He had never gone through a regular course of medicine, 
but his younger friends had given him the title of Doctor to 
place him on a higher footing than the Greek chemist, and 
he had not thought it necessary to protest against the 
calumny. As for his treatment of his patients, he left them 
to the care of his two faithful assistants — the healthy 
Balkan air and nature. Hence he rarely had recourse to 
his pharmacopoeia, which, indeed, being in Latin, was a 
sealed book to him ; and all his dispensary was contained 
on a single small shelf. No wonder that he thus managed 
to take the wind out of the sails of his rival. 

Sokoloff was Marko's family doctor, and had come to 
visit little Asen. 

The other visitor was Ivancho Yotata. He, like a good 
neighbour, had come to see what was the matter, and pass 
the time of day. For a few minutes the conversation was 
taken up with the event of the evening, and Ivancho 
eloquently described his impressions and dismay. 

" To tell you the truth," he rambled on, " just as our Lala 
was clearing the table, I heard a most prodigious to-do 
in your courtyard, Marko. Then the dog was making a 
tremendous row. I was frightened — at least, I wasn't 
exactly frightened, but I said to Lala : ' Lala,' says I, 
' whatever is the matter next door ? Just look over the 
wall into their courtyard.' Then it struck me that this was 
more a man's business than a woman's. So I boldly climbed 
on to the wall and looked over. Your courtyard was pitch 
dark. What's all this to-do about ? thinks I, knowingly ; 
let me give notice to the police. But Lala was standing 
behind me and catching hold of my coat. ' Where are you 
going?' says she. 'Not to Marko's, I hope ? ' 'No, no,' 
says I. ' There's nothing the matter : lock the gate into 
Marko's yard.' " 

" There was no need, Ivancho — ^there was nothing the 
matter," said Marko, smiling. 

* The Revolutionary Committees, common in Bulgaria from about 
1872 to 1876, had made a great impression on the Turks, and all Bul- 
garian insurgents were by them called " Koumitajis," or simply " Kou- 
mita." 



24 UNDER THE YOKE 

" Then," continued Yotata, " I said to myself : ' We must 
inform the authorities : M. Marko is my neighbour, and 
mustn't be left in danger.' So I rushed downstairs, with 
Lala screaming after me. ' Silence,' said I in a manly tone. 
I went out of the door, and lo and behold ! all was as still as 
the dead." 

" Is little Asen asleep yet, Marko ? " asked the doctor, to 
stay the flow of Ivancho's oratorical display. But Ivancho 
hastened to continue : 

" When I saw that the street was as still as the dead, I said 
to myself : ' Don't you trust it, Ivancho ' ; and I turned 
back and came out by the back door — that is, I got out into 
the blind alley, turned out of it past Petko's door, then past 
the Mahmoud's, past Uncle Gencho's dung-heap, and then 
straight to the Konak. I went in, looked round, and at 
once boldly informed the on-bashi that there were robbers 
in your house, and that the fowls were flying about the 
yard." 

" I tell you there was no one there ; your trouble was 
quite unnecessary, Ivancho." Meanwhile the storm was 
raging outside in all its fury. 

" By the way, Marko, I had quite forgotten to ask you," 
said the doctor suddenly ; " did a young man call this 
evening ? " 

" What young man ? " 

" A stranger, pretty badly dressed, but fairly intelligent- 
looking, as far as I could see. He was asking for your 
house." 

" Where did you see him ? No one called," answered 
Marko, with evident confusion, which, however, his visitors 
had no reason to observe. 

The doctor went on quietly : 

" A young man addressed me just at nightfall, near Hajji 
Pavli's rose-field. He asked me politely, ' Can you tell me, 
sir, if Marko Ivanoff's house is far ? I want to see him,' 
says he, ' it's the first time I have been here.' I happened 
to be going the same way, so I offered to show him your 
house. On the road I looked at him carefully : the poor 
fellow was almost in rags — his coat was very thin and all 
torn, as far as I could see in the dark. He was tired and 
weak, and could scarcely stand on his feet, and in this awful 
weather, too ! I didn't dare to ask him where he was 
coming from or why he was in that state, but I was sorry 



BACK AT MARKO'S 25 

for the poor fellow. And when I saw his vest was in rags, 
and, so to speak, falling to pieces, I couldn't resist asking 
him, ' I hope you won't be angry with me, sir, if I offer you 
my overcoat — ^you will forgive me, won't you ? ' He said 
' Thank you,' and took it. So we came as far as your 
house, and then I left him. I wanted to ask you who he 
was." 

" I tell you, no one came to call." 

" That's funny," said the doctor. 

" Perhaps it was a robber, who chmbed on to your roof, 
Marko ? " asked Ivancho. " That may have caused all this 
to-do." 

" It's impossible that that young man should have been 
a robber," said the doctor, curtly ; " anyone could see that 
from his face." 

The conversation was assuming an unpleasant tone, and 
Marko, to change it, turned to Sokoloff. 

" Have you read the paper, doctor ? How's the revolt 
in the Herzegovina getting on ? " 

" It's all over, Marko. That heroic nation has achieved 
miracles, but what can they do against such odds ? " 

" Goodness me ! A handful of men like that to hold 
out so long. Why can't we do something of the kind ? " 
said Marko. 

" We've never tried," said the doctor ; " we're five times 
as many as the Herzegovinians, but we don't know our own 
strength yet." 

"Don't think of such a thing, doctor," said Marko. 
" We're one thing and the Herzegovinians are another ; 
we're in the jaws of hell : we've only to move to be cut 
down like sheep. There's nowhere we can look to for 
aid." 

" Well, well, I've got a gun, but I haven't cleaned it for 
twelve years," said Yotata. 

" I ask you, have we ever tried ? " repeated the doctor 
impatiently. 

" They kill us and cut us to pieces without our trying : 
the more submissive we are, the more they ill-use us. 
What had that poor child of Gancho's done,that was brought 
in yesterday beheaded ? They threaten us with the gallows 
if we venture to protest against their tyranny, and the 
Yemeksiz Pehlivans are allowed to torture us to their heart's 
content, unpunished. WTiat kind of justice do you call 



26 UNDER THE YOKE 

that ? The mildest would revolt against it. Even a worm 
will turn, as the saying is." 

Grandmother Ivanitsa entered. 

" What do you think ? " said she ; " Pena says before the 
rain began she heard guns fired. Dear, dear ! I wonder 
what is the matter. Holy Virgin, some poor Christian soul 
has perished again, I suppose." 

Marko started : his countenance changed. He had a 
presentiment that something had happened to Kralich. 
His heart overflowed with grief, which he was unable to 
conceal. 

" Why, Marko, what's the matter ? " said the doctor, 
feeling his pulse and scanning his countenance, which 
showed only too plainly the signs of intense moral 
suffering. 

The rain had stopped. The visitors rose to take leave. 
The news had disturbed them. 

" Nonsense ! the maid must have fancied it all — most 
likely some one shutting his shutters. Don't be afraid — 
courage ! " said Ivancho Yotata, boldly. " Grandmother, 
is your side door open ? " And while Marko was showing 
the doctor out, Ivancho hurriedly left by the side door, 
opened for him on the other side by his wife, 

CHAPTER V : THE REST OF THE NIGHT 
Doctor Sokoloff knocked at his door. 

It was opened by an old woman, whom he asked, as he 
passed by her hurriedly : " How's Cleopatra ? " 

" She's been asking for you," replied the old woman with 
a smile. 

The doctor passed through the long courtyard, and 
entered his room. This apartment, which was at the same 
time his receiving-room, study, dispensary, and bedroom, 
was a broad bare room with cupboards in the walls and a 
deep fireplace. On a small shelf were arranged all his 
drugs ; on the little table were scattered a small mortar and 
pestle, a few medical books, and a revolver ; a double- 
barrelled matchlock hung over the bed. The only picture 
with which the walls were adorned was a portrait of Prince 
Nicolas of Montenegro, beneath which was the photograph 
of some actress. Everything showed that the room was that 
of an easy-going bachelor : it was dull, bare, and untidy. 



THE REST OF THE NIGHT 27 

In the comer was the haK-opened door of the cellar, where 
three years ago Levski had spent the night. 

The doctor flung off his fez and coat carelessly, ap- 
proached the cellar door, clapped his hands, and cried out ; 
" Cleopatra, Cleopatra ! " 

There was no answer. 

" Come out, Cleopatra darling ! " 

A sound was heard from the cellar. 

The doctor sat down on a chair in the middle of the 
room, and called, " Here, Cleopatra ! " 

A bear, or rather a bear-cub, came out. 

It approached, dragging its massive paws along the 
ground, and purring joyfully. Then it sprang up and 
placed its forepaws on the doctor's knees, opening its 
capacious jaws and displaying its teeth, sharp and glittering. 
It fawned on him like a dog, while the doctor gently stroked 
its head, and gave it his hand to lick. 

The beast had been caught, while quite young, on the 
Sredna Gora, by a peasant, who had given it to Sokoloff for 
having cured his child of a serious illness. The doctor had 
become much attached to it, and took the greatest pains to 
procure proper food for it. Cleopatra flourished exceed- 
ingly under this sedulous care, took lessons in gymnastics 
with the best grace possible, and her devotion to her master 
increased daily. 

Cleopatra now danced a bear's polka, carried the doctor's 
hat for him, waited on him, and guarded his room like a dog. 
But it was a real " bear's {i.e., doubtful) service," for her 
presence in the house kept away the doctor's patients : 
however, he did not trouble himseK about that. 

When she got well into her polka, Cleopatra would roar furi- 
ously, so that when she danced the whole neighbourhood 
knew it. On such occasions Sokoloff danced gaily with her. 

That evening he was altogether in the mood for dancing. 
He threw Cleopatra a piece of meat, saying, " Eat it, 
darling ; they say a hungry bear won't dance, and I want 
you to dance for me like a princess to-night." 

The bear understood, and answered with a growl, which 
meant " I am ready." The doctor began to sing, beating 
time on a brass dish : 

Dimitra, dear, my fair-haired lass, 

Oo tell your mother, Dimitra, 
You're the only lass I love .... 



28 UNDER THE YOKE 

Cleopatra stood up on her hind legs and danced with 
frenzy, roaring all the time. Suddenly she sprang to the 
window with an angry growl. The doctor looked out and 
saw there was some one in the courtyard. 

He seized his revolver. " Who's there ? " he asked, forcing 
the bear to be quiet. 

" Doctor, you're wanted at the Konak ! " 

" Is that you, Sherif Aga ? What the devil do you want 
me for now> Who's ill ? " 

" Stop that bear's noise first." 

The doctor made a sign to Cleopatra, who retreated un- 
willingly, and with an ominous growl, into her cellar, the 
door of which he closed after her. 

" My orders are to take you to the Konak. You're a 
prisoner," said the on-bashi sternly. 

" A prisoner ? I ? What for ? " 

" You'll find that out soon enough. Come, let's get on." 
And they went off with the doctor confused and dismayed : 
he had a presentiment of trouble. 

As they went out they heard a heartrending roar from 
Cleopatra, which sounded almost like human lamenta- 
tion. 

At the Konak all was confusion. They took the doctor to 
the Bey. 

The latter was sitting in his usual place in the corner of 
the room. By his side sat Kiriak Stefchoff, reading from' 
some paper, at which Necho Pironkoff — the Bulgarian 
member of the Local Council — was peeping over his 
shoulder. The Bey, who was about sixty years of age, 
received the doctor coldly, but offered him a chair. Sokoloff 
was the Bey's family doctor, and rather a favourite of his. 
And the Turks usually treated their prisoners with a show 
of kindness, to induce them to confess. 

The doctor, in looking round the room, was astonished 
to see on the divan the overcoat he had given to Kralich. 

This discovery redoubled his dismay. 

" Doctor, is that coat yours ? " asked the Bey. 

The doctor did not dream of denying the fact, which was, 
indeed, seK-apparent. He answered affirmatively. 

" Why is it not in your possession ? " 

" Because I gave it to a poor man." 

" Where ? " 

" In the Hajji Shadoff street," 



THE REST OF THE NIGHT 29 

" At what time ? " 

" At two o'clock (Turkish time)." * 

" Do you ktiow who he was ? " 

" No ; but I was sorry for him, because he was in rags." 

" How the poor fellow lies ! " said Necho contemptuously. 

" Well, that's only natural — a drowning man catches at a 
straw," repHed his neighbour. 

The Bey smiled ominously as having detected a manifest 
lie. He was perfectly certain that the coat had been taken 
from the doctor's back by the police, as the patrol, indeed, 
assured him was the case. 

" Kiriak Effendi, give me the papers. Do you know 
these papers ? " 

The doctor looked. They were a copy of the newspaper 
N ezavisimost f and a printed revolutionary proclamation. 
He denied all knowledge of them. 

" Then how do they come into the pockets of your 
coat ? " 

" I have already told you that I gave the coat away to 
some one. Perhaps he put them there." 

The Bey shrugged his shoulders. The doctor saw that 
things were getting serious — at best they made him out to 
be connected mth a revolutionary, as it seems the stranger 
was. If he had only kno^vn that, he would have been more 
careful, and might have saved them both from trouble. 

" Call the wounded Osman," ordered the Bey. 

A zaptie came in with his arm bound up above the elbow. 
It was he who had seized the coat from Kralich's shoulders 
and at that moment had been wounded by a shot fired by 
one of his comrades. He was, or pretended to be, fully 
convinced that it was the fugitive " Koumita " J who had 
fired at him. 

Osman advanced towards the doctor : " That's the man, 
sir." 

" Is that the man from whom you took the coat ? Do 
you recognise him ? " 

" That's the man, and it's he who fired at me." 

The doctor looked at him bewildered : he was struck 

* I.e., two hours after sunset. 

t Independence, the organ of the Bulgarian Revolutionary Committee 
at Bucharest. 

X The insurgents were by the Turks called " Koumitaji " or simply 
" Koumita," the nearest approximation to the word " Committee," with 
which they were supposed to be connected. 



30 UNDER THE YOKE 

dumb by the grave and unfounded charge brought against 
him. 

" The zap tie lies in the most barefaced manner," he 
said. 

" You may go, Osman Aga. Well, sir," added the Bey, 
in a serious tone, " do you deny all this ? " 

" The whole thing is a fabrication. I never carry a 
revolver, and I didn't go through the Petkanchoff Street 
this evening." 

The on-bashi approached the lamp, examined the doctor's 
revolver which he had taken off his table, and said signifi- 
cantly : " There are four chambers loaded, but one cartridge 
is missing." The Bey nodded attentively. 

" I tell you that's another mistake of yours — I never 
took my revolver this evening." 

"■ Tell us, doctor, where were you at three o'clock when 
all this afifair happened." 

This unexpected question fell like a thunderbolt on 
Sokoloff. He reddened with confusion, but managed to 
reply in a confident manner : 

" At three o'clock I was at Marko Ivanoff's — his child 
is iU." 

" It was nearly four o'clock when you went in to Marko's 
— ^we were just coming out," said the on-bashi, who had met 
the doctor on his way thither. 

The doctor remained silent : appearances against him 
were too strong. He saw he was in a fix. 

" Well, then, tell us where you were from the time you 
gave away your coat in the Hajji Shadoff Street, until you 
v/ent to Marko's house," said the Bey, thus skilfully putting 
a simple question which could only be met with a simple 
answer. But Dr. Sokoloff did not reply. His face gave 
signs of a sharp internal struggle, accompanied by moral 
suffering. 

His confusion and silence were clearer than a confession. 
They completed the other proofs. The Bey was convinced 
he had the real culprit before him ; however, he asked yet 
once more : 

" Tell us where you were at that time, doctor." 

" I cannot tell you," said the doctor, in quiet but decisive 
tones. This answer struck everybody. Necho, the member 
of Council, winked ironically at Stefchdff, as if to say, " The 
poor fellow is done for." 



/ 



THE LETTER 31 

*' Come, doctor, tell us where were you ? " 

" I can't possibly tell you that ; it's a secret which my 
honour, both as a man and a doctor, forbids me to reveal. 
But I was not in the Petkanchoff Street," said the doctor, 
firmly and resolutely. 

The Bey pressed him to answer the question, pointing 
out the dangerous consequences if he should continue to 
refuse to speak. But the doctor seemed quite calm, like a 
man who has said all he has to say. 

" Won't you say ? " 

" I have no more to say." 

" Then, sir, you will be my guest to-night. Take the 
doctor down to the cells," said the Bey, sternly. The 
doctor went out, bewildered by the crushing accusations 
which he was not in a position to refute ; for, as he said 
himself, he could by no possibility reveal the place where 
he was at three o'clock that evening. 

CHAPTER VI : THE LETTER 

Marko slept badly that night. The events of the evening 
had disturbed his peace of mind. He got up earlier than 
usual, and when he went to Ganko's for his morning cup of 
coffee the proprietor had only just taken down his shutters 
and was lighting his fire. Marko was his first customer. 

Cafe-keepers are great chatterboxes, and Ganko, after the 
usual obligatory jokes, which he always produced with 
Marko's morning coffee, at once proceeded to give him an 
account of the doctor's adventure in the Petkanchoff Street 
and its consequences, interlarding his story with a number 
of coarse and silly jests. Ganko told his tale with much 
excitement. In general the misfortunes of others invariably 
produce a threefold impression on small minds : first, 
surprise ; next, an internal satisfaction that the misfortune 
has happened to some one else ; and thirdly, a secret and 
malicious joy. Such are the hidden instincts which human 
nature conceals. As for Ganko, he had even greater cause 
for wishing evil to the doctor, the latter having once 
deducted twelve cups of coffee from his score as payment 
for one professional visit. Ganko had never forgiven him 
this exorbitant and unheard-of charge. 

Marko could not contain himself for surprise. He had 
conversed with the doctor on the previous evening, and 



82 UNDER THE YOKE 

neither his countenance nor his conversation had led him 
to suspect anything extraordinary. Besides, why should 
the doctor have concealed such a thing from him ? 

The entry of the on-bashi into the cafe afforded Marko 
an opportunity for further enhghtenment. He saw that the 
doctor was the victim of some strange blunder on the part 
of the police, as also that Kralich had escaped from their 
grasp; this latter thought gave him much satisfaction. He 
turned on to the on-bashi : " 1 will stake my life on the 
doctor's innocence," said he. 

'* God grant it," answered the on-bashi ; " but I don't 
see how he's to prove it." 

" He'll prove it, only they may ruin him first. At what 
time does the Bey come to the Konack ? " 

" In about an hour ; he comes early." 

" You must release the doctor ; I'll go bail for him : I'll 
stake my house and my children on it, that he's innocent." 

The on-bashi cast a glance of surprise at him. 

' ' There's no need of bail — they've sent him away 
already." 

" When ? Where to ? " cried Marko. 

*' We sent him off to K. last night, with a police escort." 

Marco was unable to conceal his disappointment. 

The on-bashi, who had a regard for him, said in a con- 
fidential tone : " Marko Chorbaji, if I were you I wouldn't 
interfere in an ugly business like this. What is it to do 
with you ? These are times when every one keeps himself 
to himself." 

The on-bashi drank his coffee, and said : 

" I must go in half an hour, to take a letter from the Bey 
inclosing the doctor's revolutionary papers. If you want to 
know, they're the only proofs against him, and quite enough 
too. As for the other thing — Osman's wound — that's all 
a mistake, he didn't fire at him — it was one of us — it's a 
wound from a rifle-bullet. Well, the bigwigs will see to it. 
Ganko, give me an old bit of paper to wrap the letter in or 
it'll get dirty." 

So saying, he took from his sash a large envelope with a 
red seal which he wrapped up in the paper the cafe-keeper 
gave him. Then, lighting another cigarette, the on-bashi 
saluted Marko and went out. 

Marko remained for a moment deep in thought. The 
cafe-keeper (who was at the same time the town-barber) was 



THE LETTER 33 

already lathering Petko Buzzouniak's head. Marko rose 
and went out. 

" Good-day to you, Marko. You're off very early," cried th^^^ 
barber, dashing the lather about in soapy waves on his vic- 
tim's head, ' ' so you want to go bail for the doctor ! As a man 
sows, so shall he reap. Why don't they come and haul off 
Petko Buzzouniak to prison ? Eh, Petko, what do you say ? " 

An inarticulate murmur was heard from among the lather, 
but it was unintelligible. In a few minutes the barber had 
shampooed his customer, wiped his head and face dry with 
a towel of very doubtful cleanhness, handed him the looking- 
glass, and said, " There you are." 

As he was ushering his customer out, Ganko met Marko 
on the threshold. 

"I forgot my tobacco-pouch," said he, and went 
hurriedly to the seat where he had left it. 

Buzzouniak laid his piastre on the looking-glass, and went 
out. Ganko turned back. 

" By-the-by, Ganko, tell me what my account is. I 
settle up at the end of the month, you know," said Marko. 

Ganko pointed to the ceiling which was covered with 
hieroglyphics in chalk. " There's the ledger," said he ; 
" you've only to reckon it up and pay." 

" I don't see my name there." 

" That's the way I put 'em down, a la franga." * 

" You'll soon have the brokers in, if that's the way you 
keep your accounts, Ganko," said Marko, chafiingly, as he 
took out his purse. " Well, if that fellow hasn't left his 
letter behind ! " he added, pointing to the shelf. 

" My eyes ! the on-bashi's letter," cried Ganko, surprised, 
and casting a glance of interrogation at Marko, as if to ask 
what was to be done. 

' ' Send it him — send it him at once," said Marko, hastily 
— " there you are, twenty-eight piastres and thirty paras — 
you've taken my last farthing, you rogue." Ganko went 
out, dumbfounded, thinking " what a curious man Marko is. 
He's ready to go bail with his house for that bear -trainer 
and yet he won't throw the letter in the fire — it might have 
been done in a minute and no one the wiser." 

Meanwhile new customers were arriving, and clouds of 
smoke soon filled the cafe, whilst conversation was busy 
with the doctor's mishap. 

* I.e., in " Frank " or European fashion. 

c 



34 UNDER THE YOKE 

CHAPTER VII : HEROISM 

The sun was already high in the heavens, and its rays 
lighted up the green vines at the foot of the courtyard of 
the monastery. The courtyard was now as bright and gay 
as it had been dark and dreary at night, when every object 
assumed a ghostly appearance. The merry chirp of birds 
filled it with joyous sounds : the transparent ripples of the 
stream murmured pleasantly on their way down the hill ; 
the leafy cypresses and elms rustled softly to the morning 
mountain breeze. Everything was clear and peaceful. 
Even the surrounding verandahs with their dark cells had a 
more welcome aspect, and rang with the twittering of the 
swallows as they flew in and out of their nests. 

In the courtyard by the vines was a majestic -looking old 
man, with long white beard reaching to his waist dressed in 
a long blue gown. This was Father Yerote, an old man of 
eighty-five, the relic of a former century, almost a wreck, yet 
a hale and honourable wreck. He was living out, quietly 
and simply, the last years of his protracted life. Every 
morning he would walk there, breathing in the fresh 
mountain air, and enjoying like a child the sun and the 
heavens, towards which he was already far on the road. 

Close by, against one of the vine-props, as a contrast to 
this relic of the past, stood Deacon Vikenti, book in hand 
(he was preparing for his admission to a Russian seminary). 
His juvenile face beamed with youth and hope : strength 
and life shone in his eager gaze. He represented the future, 
towards which he looked with the same confidence as did 
the old man towards eternity. 

It is only the untroubled life of the cloister that can give 
this restful quiet to the soul. 

On the stone steps leading to the Church sat the rotund 
Father Gedeon, a deeply learned man : he was gazing atten- 
tively at the peacocks as they walked about the yard with 
tails outspread, fan-like. He compared them to the self- 
satisfied Pharisee in the Gospel, and their screams reminded 
him of wise King Solomon, who understood the language 
of birds. Plunged in these pious reflections Father Gedeon 
was quietly awaiting the grateful sound of the summons to 
breakfast, as he sniffed the savoury odours proceeding from 
the refectory kitchen which announced the preparation of 
the meal. 



HEROISM 85 

Mouncho's colleague, the cross-eyed idiot of the monas- 
tery, was standing on the threshold in the sun. He was 
examining with an attention no less profoundly philoso- 
phical the domestic habits of the peacocks — indeed, to say 
this scarcely gives the true state of the case, for the glance of 
the idiot embraced not only the peacocks, but also the 
entire horizon ; since while one eye pointed due west, the 
other took in at the same time the east. 

Erect beside him, Mouncho was clasping his hands, while 
with head upturned he anxiously scanned the windows on 
the top -story, for reasons known only to himseK. 

If we add the higoumen, who was out, and some few lay- 
assistants, we have before us the whole population of the 
monastery. 

Just then the higoumen trotted up on his horse, dis- 
mounted, and handed the reins to the cross-eyed brother, 
saying as he did so to Vikenti : "I have come from town, 
and bring bad news." 

Thereupon he told them the story of Sokoloff 's mishap : 
' Poor Sokoloff, poor Sokoloff ! " he sighed. 

The higoumen Natanael was a tall, powerful man, with a 
virile face and a bold, dashing manner. Remove his 
monk's garb, and little of the monk remained in him. The 
walls of his cell were hung with guns ; he was a first-rate 
shot, swore like a trooper, and was as skilled in healing 
wounds as he was in dealing them. Chance had made him 
the higoumen of a monastery instead of a voivode in the 
Balkans. Moreover, rumour had it that he had once been 
the latter, but was now repentant. 

" Where is Father Gedeon," asked the higoumen, looking 
round. 

''• Here am I," answered Father Gedeon, in a shrill 
voice, emerging from the monastery whither he had gone 
to see if breakfast would soon be ready. 

" In the kitchen again. Father Gedeon : don't you know 
that gluttony is a deadly sin ? " So saying, the abbot 
enjoined him to fasten the saddle-bags on the donkey, and 
proceed to the village of Voinyagovo, to inspect the hay 
makers who were mowing the monastery's fields. 

Father Gedeon was round, bloated, and puffy as a sheep's 
bladder when blown out. The slight movement he had 
made in coming to the door had brought the dew of suffering 
to his forehead. 



36 UNDER THE YOKE 

** Father Higoumen," he murmured in tones of agonised 
entreaty, clasping his hands before him, and appalled at the 
idea of a journey in this sinful world ; " Father Higoumen, 
were it not better to remove this bitter cup from the lips of 
your lowly brother ? " 

" What bitter cup, man ? Do you mean my sending you 
to the mowers ? Why, you're going to ride the donkey, 
and as for the labour, all you've to do is to hold the reins 
with one hand and give your benediction with the other," 
said the higoumen, smiling. 

" Father Natanael, it isn't for the labour ; we come into 
the world for a life of labour and suffering. But the times 
are evil." 

' ' Evil ? In May ? Why, the trip will do you good." 

*' The times, father, the times," murmured Father 
Gedeon. " You see they have taken the doctor, and may 
send the Christian to destruction. The race of Hagar is 
merciless. God forbid, if they accuse me of stirring up the 
people to revolt, the whole monastery may suffer. The 
peril is imminent." 

The higoumen burst out laughing. 

" Ha ! ha ! ha ! "he cried, in uncontrollable mirth, with 
arms akimbo, as he looked at the rotund form of Father 
Gedeon. " And do you think the Turks will suspect you ! 
Father Gedeon a political emissary ! Ha ! ha ! is it not 
written, ' thou shalt make the sluggard to work, that he may 
learn wisdom.' Your besetting sin of idleness has made me 
laugh when I was but little disposed to do so. Deacon 
Vikenti ! Deacon Vikenti ! Come and listen to Father 
Gedeon. Mouncho, go and call Vikenti ; I want to make 
him laugh." 

In truth, the boisterous merriment of the higoumen made 
the walls ring again. 

When he heard the order, Mouncho shook his head still 
more strangely, his eyes staring with terror. 

" The Russian ! " he cried, trembling, and pointed to 
the staircase up which the deacon had gone. And to 
avoid the errand, he fled hurriedly to the opposite side of 
the quadrangle. 

" Russian ! What does he mean by that ? " 

" He means the ghost, your reverence," said Father 
Gedeon. 

''• And how long is it since Mouncho has become such a 



HEROISM 87 

coward ? Why, he used to Hve all alone, like an owl in 
the wilderness." 

'' Of a truth, father, a spirit walks nightly on the veran- 
dah. Last night Mouncho came to my cell in a paroxysm 
of terror. He had seen a ghost in white garments coming 
out of the cell with the windows. He also told me of other 
things, from which may the Lord deUver us. We must 
sprinKle the top story with holy water." 

Mouncho had stopped some distance off, and was staring 
terrified, at the top story. 

'* What can he have seen ? Come, father, let's inspect 
the premises," said the higoumen, who fancied that perhaps 
a thief might have concealed himseK there. 

" The Lord forbid," said Gedeon, crossing himself. The 
higoumen went upstairs alone. 

In truth, when the higoumen called the deacon, the 
latter htid gone to Kralich's cell. 

" What's the news, father ? "asked the latter, seeing his 
disturbed countenance. 

" There's no danger," said the deacon at once reassur- 
ingly, " but the higoumen has brought very bad news. 
Last night Sokoloff was arrested and carried off to K." 

" Who is this Sokoloff ? " 

" He's a doctor in the town — a very decent youth. It 
seems they found revolutionary books or papers on him. I 
know him to be a fervent patriot," said the deacon, sorrow- 
fully ; then, after a moment's pause, he added, " When the 
police were pursuing him last night he fired and wounded a 
zaptie, who had laid hold of his overcoat. Poor doctor ! 
I'm afraid he's done for. Thank God, you got off safe, 
and nothing seems to have been heard of you in 
town." 

As the deacon stopped talking, he observed with surprise 
that Kralich had taken his head between his hands, and was 
pacing up and down the room like a madman, sighing 
deeply. These signs of a despair, as inexplicable as it was 
sudden, greatly astonished the deacon. 

" Why, what's the matter, man ? Thank God, you're all 
right," cried Vikenti. 

Kralich stopped in front of him, with a face distorted by 
moral suffering, and exclaimed almost angrily : 

" All right ! all right, am I ? That's easily said ! " and 
he struck his forehead. " What are you thinking of, 



38 UNDER THE YOKE 

Vikenti ? Don't you understand 1 My God ! I forgot to 
tell you that the overcoat was mine. Last night, at the 
outskirts of the town, some kind young man, who showed 
me Marko's house — evidently this Dr. Sokoloff — gave it to 
me, seeing what a state I was in, and that's the coat I left 
in the zaptie's hands. I took some papers out of an inner 
pocket and put them in the pocket of the coat : they were a 
copy of the Nezavisimost and a proclamation which they 
gave me in a hut at Troyan, where I spent the night. That's 
not enough, but they must go and say he fired at a zap tie, 
when I never touched the revolver ! Ah ! the scoundrels ! 
Now do you see ? that man has sacrificed himself for me ! 
It is my accursed fate to bring misfortune on all those who do 
good to me ! " 

" It's a great misfortune," said Vikenti, pityingly ; 
" especially since you can't help him, as matters stand." 

Kralich turned on him with a burning countenance. 

'* What do you mean, I can't help him ? Am I to leave 
a generous benefactor, and, as you say, a fervent patriot, 
to perish on my account ? That would be baseness 
indeed ! " 

The deacon looked at him bewildered. 

" No, I shall rescue him from this mishap, even if it 
costs me my life ? " 

" How ! what's to be done ? tell me : I am ready to do 
anything," cried Vikenti. 

' I alone will save him ! " 

" You ! " 

" Yes, I ; I'll rescue him. I am the only one who is 
able and bound to rescue him," cried Kralich, excitedly, as 
he paced up and down the cell, with an expression of 
utmost decision and courage. 

" Are we to make an assault on the prison ? " asked 
Vikenti, who was lost in astonishment and half afraid lest 
Kralich had taken leave of his senses. 

" Mr. KraHch," he continued, " how do you mean to save 
him ? " 

" What ! don't you understand ? I shall give myself 
up!" 

" You — ^give yourseK up ? — ^alone ? " 

** Do you think I should entreat them to release him ? 
Listen, Father Vikenti ! I'm an honest man, and I won't 
owe my life to the sufferings of others. I haven't come 



AT CHORBAJI YORDAN'S 39 

1500 miles to commit an act of baseness. If I can't sacrifice 
my life nobly, at least I can do so honourably. Do you 
understand ? Unless I give myself up to the Turks this 
very day, and say ' this man is innocent — I have never had 
any dealings with him — the coat was taken from my back — 
the papers are mine — I'm the culprit — I'm guilty — if you 
like, I fired at the zaptie — do what you please to me ' — 
unless I do this, Dr. Sokolofi is lost — especially as he was 
unable or unwilHng to say where he was ? Tell me, can I 
do otherwise ? " 

The deacon was silent. In his heart he recognised, as 
an honest man, that Kralich was right. This self-sacrifice 
was imposed on him by feelings of justice and humanity, 
and he could not wait for others to point out to him the 
course he should take. The man seemed to him to become 
greater and more dignified in his eyes. His figure assumed 
that calm, noble, heavenly brightness with which only a 
great and sudden flash of valour can inspire the human 
countenance. Kralich's earnest, simple, and ringing words 
echoed in his ears with a soft and majestic sound. He 
would have liked to be in his place, to say such words — 
ay, and carry them out. His eyes filled with tears. 

" Show me the way to K.," said Kralich. Suddenly the 
great bearded head of the higoumen appeared at the window; 
they had not heard his footsteps in the heat of their discus- 
sion. Kralich started, and glanced inquiringly at the deacon. 

Vikenti hurriedly pointed to the door, took the higoumen 
aside to the corridor, and whispered to him long and 
passionately, with excited gestures, and side -glances at the 
cell where Kralich was waiting impatiently. When the door 
opened and Vikenti and Natanael returned, Kralich ad- 
vanced towards the higoumen and sought to kiss his hand. 

" No, no, I'm not worthy that you should kiss my hand," 
cried the higoumen, in tears ; and placing both arms round 
his neck, he kissed his lips affectionately, as a father kisses 
a beloved and long-absent son. 

CHAPTER VIII : AT CHORBAJI YORDAN'S 

There was a great family gathering that day at Chorbaji 
Yordan's, given in accordance with the old Bulgarian cus- 
tom, in honour of a recent wedding in the family. All his 
relations and the friends of the family had been invited. 



40 UNDER THE YOKE 

Yordan DiamandiefiE was now an old man, somewhat 
feeble, of a morose and nervous disposition : he belonged 
to that section of the Bulgarian bourgeoisie — the Chorbajis — 
who have done so much to make the whole class odious. 
His wealth went on increasing, his numerous family- 
flourished, and he was universally feared, but no one liked 
him. Certain old stories of iniquitous acts of oppression 
and wrong, in which the poor had suffered and the conniv- 
ance of the Turks been obtained by fawning, flattery, or 
still worse means, kept up his impopularity, even now that 
he was unable or unwilling to injure any one. He belonged 
entirely to the past generation. 

The only acts of oppression he now permitted himself 
to carry on were exercised at the cost of the school- 
teachers — or of such as refused to bow before his will. 
The wolf may change his skin, but not his teeth, says the 
proverb. 

In spite of Yordan's surly disposition, the meal was a 
merry one. Mother Ghinka, his married daughter still 
fairly good-looking, loquacious, quick at repartee, and very 
lively, who did not scruple to box the ears of her thoroughly 
subdued husband whenever necessary, kept the guests in 
fits of laughter by the jests and stories which her indefatig- 
able tongue scattered hither and thither. Those who 
enjoyed her wit most were the three nuns. One of these, 
Sister Hajji * Rovoama, Yordan's sister, who was lame, 
malicious, and a thorough mischief-maker, was no less 
talkative than Ghinka, and had many a bitter jest at the ex- 
pense of absent friends. Hajji Simeon, the host's son-in-law, 
laughed loudly with his mouth full ; Hajji Pavli, the lately 
married bridegroom, carried away by his mirth, was eating 
with the spoon of Alaf ranga Mikhalaki, who, annoyed at this 
inadvertence, cast reproving glances round him Mikhalaki 
bore the well-deserved nickname of " Alaf ranga," because 
thirty years ago he had been the first in the town to wear 
European trousers and stammer a few words of French. 
Unfortunately his efforts had stopped short there. The 
coat he wore to-day was of the fashion prevailing at the 
time of the Crimean War, and his slender French vocabu- 
lary had not received a single addition. But his renown 

* The word " Hajji " implies that the person to whose name it is 
prefixed, whether Christian or Mussulman, has performed the pilgrimage 
to Jerusalem or Mecca respectively, 



AT CHORBAJI YORDAN'S 41 

as a man of learning, and with it his flattering nick- 
name, had come down to the present day. Mikhalaki 
fully realised his o^vvn importance, and was very proud of 
it ; he was stiff in manner, spoke with a pompous air, and 
would allow no one to call him simply Mikhal, so as to 
avoid being taken for the policeman, who also rejoiced in 
that name. Indeed, Mikalaki was very susceptible -with 
respect to names. He had had a feud of many years' stand- 
ing with his neighbour, Ivancho Yotata, because the latter 
had twice in one evening mispronounced his name, in his 
usual blundering fashion. 

Opposite Alafranga sat Damiancho Grigoroff, a man of 
fifty years of age, of moderate height, thin, dark, with a 
look of intense cunning, and thin mobile lips of ironical 
expression, but with an extremely serious countenance ; he 
also had a reputation for wisdom, but of an entirely different 
kind from Alafranga 's. He was a loquacious and fluent 
story-teller, of inexhaustible resource, as deep as a well, and 
with a very powerful imagination, rich as the treasury of 
Halim Aga : with him a drop became an ocean, and a 
molehill a mountain — indeed, he would often begin by 
inventing the molehill. The most remarkable feature was 
that he beHeved his own stories — the surest means of making 
others believe them. In other respects, Damiancho was 
one of the principal tradesmen, a patriot, and a man of sage 
counsels. 

Mother Ghinka's husband was eating his dinner in a 
subdued manner, for he knew that if he ventured to say 
anything his wife would at once transfix him with a look 
of piercing severity, so that he dared not open his mouth 
before her. He was a weak man of no character, and was 
of so little account that instead of his wife being called 
Ghinka Ghenkova, after him, he was known as Ghinka's 
Ghenko. By his side Necho Pironkoff, the member of 
Council, sat whispering with an air of importance to Kiriak 
Stefchoff, who was dfssed in the height of fashion, and 
nodded now and then absently in response without noticing 
what his neighbour was saying, his attention being taken up 
by Yordan's daughter, Lalka, on whom he kept casting 
admiring glances. But his inattention did not go un- 
punished, for Necho raised his glass to clink it against his, 
and meeting no response the wine was spilt over Stefchoff 's 
white trousers. 



42 UNDER THE YOKE 

This youth, whom we have already met at the Bey's, and 
who will reappear in the course of our story, belonged by 
birth and breeding to the Chorbaji class : he was the son of 
a man of the same stamp as Yordan Diamandieff . He was 
young, but his ideas were old-fashioned : the new and 
absorbing current of liberal thought had left him untouched. 
It was, perhaps, for this reason that the Turks viewed him 
with favour — this, however, made him unpopular with the 
younger men, who considered him as a Turkish spy. And 
his unpopularity was heightened by his haughty, spiteful 
character, and his deceitful and cowardly nature. In spite 
of this, however — or, perhaps, on that very account — Chor- 
baji Yordan had a weakness for Stefchoff which he did not 
seek to conceal. Hence rumour had, rightly or wrongly, 
fixed on him as Yordan's future son-in-law. 

Dinner was over and coffee was served by a tall, slender, 
dark-eyed girl, dressed in black, to whom no one paid any 
attention. The conversation went on briskly, for Ghinka 
was anxious to amuse the guests with her inexhaustible 
verbosity and wit. Soon the topic of the day — Sokoloff's 
arrest — came on the tapis. This subject at once attracted 
the general notice, and gave a new and agreeable impulse 
to the after-dinner chat. 

" I wonder what's become of the doctoress ? " sneered 
Mother Seraphina. 

" What doctoress ? " asked the bride. 

" Why, Cleopatra, of course." 

*' We must go and call on her, and get her to write to him 
— ^he must be fretting after her," said Mother Ghinka. 

*' Mikhalaki," asked the bride, turning to Alafranga, 
" what kind of a word is Cleopatra ? Mother Kouna can't 
pronounce it at all." 

Mkhalaki frowned, remained for a moment deep in 
thought, and then delivered himself pompously : " Cleo- 
patra is a Hellenic — that is to say, Greek word. It comes 
from i:\aLU), I weep for, and ... I weep for ..." 

" I weep for the doctor," laughed Hajji Simeon, fumbling 
in his pockets. 

*' Well, well, what signifies a name ? " said Sister Hajji 
Kovoama ; " there's some one else, though, weeping for the 
doctor as well." So saying, she bent towards Mrs. Hajji 
Simeon and another lady, and whispered something. The 
three laughed sUly. The laughter spread to all the guests. 



AT CHORBAJI YORDAN'S 43 

" What do you mean, Ghinka ? The Bey's wife ? " asked 
Macho vitsa, astounded. 

" Mind your own business — the woK eats the heifer in the 
stall sometimes," said Mother Ghinka. 

And they all laughed at this sally. 

" Kiriak, what were the papers they found on Sokoloff ? " 
asked Yordan, who did not understand what they were all 
laughing at. 

" Rank treason from beginning to end. The Bey sent 
for me at midnight to translate them for him. Such wild, 
insensate rubbish, as only lunatics can invent. Another of 
these proclamations from the Bucharest Committee, calling 
on us to rise and put the country to fire and sword, so that 
it may be freed." 

" Get yourselves massacred, all of you, so that we may be 
freed," sneered Necho Pironkoff. 

" These scoundrels are ready enough to put the place to 
fire and sword — why not ? It's not their property they 
want to destroy. They haven't a foot of ground, or a stick, 
in the place. It's easy for them to talk — a set of ruffians ! " 
said Chorbaji Yordan, angrily. 

" Thieves, the whole lot of them ! " muttered Hajji 
Simeon. 

Damiancho Grigoroff, who had been impatiently awaiting 
his opportunity for introducing one of his stories, caught at 
Simeon's last words, and began : 

" You say they're thieves, Hajji : that reminds me of 
a story — but there are thieves and thieves. I was once 
going to Ishtip in Macedonia — it was in 1863, in this very 
month of May, on the 22nd, at three o'clock, after sunset on 
a Saturday, and a cloudy night." With which Damiancho 
proceeded to relate an interminable story of an encounter 
with brigands, in which there figured the Ishtip innkeeper, 
two Pashas, a Greek captain, and the sister of Prince Couza 
of Wallachia. 

Everybody listened with the utmost attention, if not with 
perfect faith, to the absorbing story told by Damiancho, 
while they sipped their coffee with much satisfaction. 

" Dear, dear — ^they talk of fire and sword — they'll be 
burning our convent down next," said Sister Serafima. 

" May the fire of heaven consume them," murmured Sister 
Hajji Rovoama. 

" Just think of it," said Stefchoff, " the very dissemination 



44 UNDER THE YOKE 

of such stuff is high treason. It's that which perverts the 
minds of the youngsters, and either makes idle dreamers of 
them or else brings them to the gallows ! Look at Sokoloff 
— there's a sad case ! " 

" Ay — a sad case ! " acquiesced Hajji Simeon. 

Mikhalaki Alafranga added : 

" Only yesterday I had a conversation with the doctor, 
and it was easy to see what his ideas are. He was regretting 
that we hadn't got a Lioubobratich ! " * 
- " What did you answer ? " 

"I answered that there might be no Lioubobratiches, but 
that gallows were plentiful enough." 

*' And a very good answer too," said Yordan. 

" Whoever are them Lioubobratiches ? " asked the in- 
quisitive bride. 

Ghenko Ghinkin, who was a regular reader of the Pmvo 
and well-posted in politics, was just going to answer, when 
he was quelled by a glance from his wife, who replied : 

'' He's the leader of the rebels in Herzegovina, Dona dear. 
Ah ! if we had a man like him, I'd volunteer to be his 
standard-bearer myself — and then we'd go and cut 
cabbages ! " f 

*' Ah ! if we had a man like him — that would be another 
matter altogether — I'd join under his command too," said 
Hajji Simeon. 

Yordan cast a stem glance at them. " What's that you're 
saying ? such things are not even to be jested about. As 
for you, Hajji, you're talking nonsense." Then turning to 
Alafranga, " What will become of the doctor ? " 

" The law," answered Stefchoff, with a look of triumph, 
" punishes an assault on a servant of the State by death, or 
Diarbekir for life." 

" Serve him right," grunted Hajji Rovoama ; " what 
harm has the convent done to him that he should want to 
set fire to it ? " 

*' Well, he's brought it on himself," said Necho, the 
member. " Last night's thunderstorm struck some one, 
anyhow." 

" Talking of thunderstorms reminds me that about the 

* Lioubobratich was the heroic leader of the Herzegovinian revolt 
of 1875. 

t An allusion to the green turbans worn by Turks claiming descent 
from Mohammed. 



AT CHORBAJI YORDAN'S 45 

time of the Crimean War, Ivan Boshnakoff and I were on 
our way to Bosnia. I can call it to mind as if it was yester- 
day : it wanted only a day or two to the feast of St. Nikola. 
We were snowed up at Pirot, when there was the most 
tremendous thunderstorm I ever saw." And Grigoroff 
began to explain how the bolts had fallen round them, set 
fire to a walnut tree, killed fifty sheep, and cut off his horse's 
tail, which he had to sell afterwards at a very low figure in 
consequence. 

Grigoroff told his story with such sincerity and eloquence 
that his audience listened with unflagging attention to the 
very end. Stefchoif and Necho, the member, smiled at 
one another. Mikhalaki sat stiff and pompous as ever, and 
Hajji Simeon was struck dumb by the extraordinary fierce- 
ness of Damiancho's thunderstorm in mid-winter. 

While Damiancho was still busy with his story, Mother 
Ghinka began looking round for Lalka. " Rada, what has 
become of Lalka ? Go and call her at once," said Hajji 
Rovoama in an authoritative tone to the young girl in 
black. 

Lalka, on hearing Stefchoff's words as to the probable 
fate of the doctor, spoken with such ferocious calmness, had 
quietly withdrawn to her own room : there she had flung 
herself on the divan, and lay sobbing piteously. A flood of 
tears, long pent up, poured from her eyes. As she lay, the 
poor girl shook with the violence of her sobs and was power- 
less to restrain herself. Her face reflected her passionate 
grief and the torture she was undergoing. Her whole soul 
revolted at the cruelty with which these people gloated over 
the doctor's misfortune. " My God — my God — have they 
no pity ? " she thought. 

But tears can soften even the most desperate sorrow ; and 
the doctor's fate being yet unknown, there was at least still 
ground for hope. 

Lalka rose, dried her pretty pale face, and sat by the 
open window for the fresh air to remove the traces of her 
tears. She looked out listlessly on the unheeding passers-by 
in the street, but all was a blank to her. For her this 
cruel world did not exist : she wished to see only one 
face, to hear only one voice — they were all the world to 
her. 

Suddenly the rapid trot of a horse attracted her attention. 
She looked up and could not believe her eyes. There was 



46 UNDER THE YOKE 

Doctor Sokoloff galloping gaily back on a white horse. He 
bowed politely to her as he passed under her window. In 
her delight, she never thought of answering his bow, but 
rushed, as if impelled by an irresistible force, into the guest- 
chamber, and cried joyfully : 

" Doctor Sokoloff is back again ! " 

A feeling of astonishment and displeasure was depicted 
on the faces of most of those present. Hajji Rovoama 
clenched her teeth viciously, and Stefchoff grew pale, as he 
said with an air of indifference : 

" They've probably remanded him for further inquiry. 
He won't escape Diarbekir, or else the gallows so easily." 
At that moment he encountered the contemptuous glance 
of Rada, which wounded him so deeply that his face flamed 
with mortification and anger. 

" No, no, Kiriak. I hope the poor fellow will get off, 
when I think how young he is," said Ghinka, feelingly. 

Her previous jests at the doctor had been from the lips 
merely ; but her heart was sound. The bright spark of 
humanity can always be struck from the heart by the blows 
of suffering, if only it be there to begin with. 

To Hajji Simeon's honour, also, be it said, that he was 
equally delighted at the doctor's escape, but dared not say 
so before Yordan. 



CHAPTER IX : EXPLANATIONS 

The doctor was no sooner at home than he went out 
again, passed rapidly by Ganko's cafe, where many greeted 
him with a " Glad to see you back, doctor " — the heartiest 
welcome being Ganko's — and proceeded straight to Marko's 
house. On his way he espied Stefchoff on the other side 
of the road, coming out of Yordan's house. 

" My best respects, Terjuman * Effendi," cried the doctor 
with a contemptuous smile. 

Marko, who had finished dinner, was taking his coffee on 
the bench beneath the ivy. 

He was overjoyed at seeing the doctor. After various 
greetings, Sokoloff said : " Listen, Marko, while I tell you 
something that will make you laugh." 

" How did it all go, my lad ? " 

" That's what I can't make out myself. It seems to me 
* Dragoman, or Interpreter. 



EXPLANATIONS 47 

like a fairy tale — I can't believe it all. Here am I arrested 
at night, the moment I had got home after leaving you, 
and taken off to the Konak. You've heard all about my 
examination and the charges they brought against me. Who 
would have thought my poor old coat would raise such a 
bother. Well, I was locked up. An hour afterwards, in 
come two zapties. ' Doctor, up you get ! ' ' What for ? ' 

' You're to be taken to K ; it's the Bey's orders.' 

' Very well.' So we start, one zap tie in front of me, another 

behind, with loaded rifles. We got to K at dawn. 

There they locked me up again, as it was too early for the 
Court to sit. Four mortal hours I waited in prison — they 
seemed to me like four years. Finally I was taken before 
the Court. There were several Members of the Council and 
other notables, and they read out a protocol of some kind, 
of which I didn't understand one single word. More silly 
questions about my unfortunate coat, which was lying on a 
green table and seemed to be eyeing me piteously. The 
judge opened a letter — evidently from our Bey — took some 
papers out of it, and asked me, ' Are these your papers ? ' 
' I know nothing about them . ' ' Then how did they get into 
your pocket ? ' ' They were not put there by me.' He went 
on reading the letter. The Bulgarian member, Tinko Balta 
Oghlou, takes up the newspaper and examines it. ' Beg 
pardon, your worship,' says he to the judge ; ' there's 
nothing wrong in this newspaper, it's printed at Constanti- 
nople.' And he cast a smile at me as he said it. I couldn't 
understand what he meant, and stood like a log of wood. 
The Kadi asks, ' Isn't that the newspaper issued by the 
Revolutionary Committee in Roumania ? ' ' No, your 
worship,' answers Balta Oghlou ; ' this paper doesn't treat 
of politics — it's a religious * paper, published by the Protes- 
tant missionaries.' I couldn't trust my own eyes ! It was 
the Zornitsa. Tinko Balta Oghlou takes the proclamation, 
glances at it, looks at me, and smiles again. ' There's 
nothing seditious in this either, your worship ; it's a pros- 
pectus ! ' — and he began to read aloud : ' Try Doctor Ivan 
Bogoroff's patent medicines.' The Kadi looked at him in 
astonishment ; every one began to laugh ; even the Kadi 
smiled ; as for me I roared — who could have helped 
laughing ? How in the world did this miraculous transfor- 

* The Zornitsa, the Bulgarian organ of the American Missionaries, 
published at Constantinople since 1858. 



48 UNDER THE YOKE 

mation takes place ? That's more than I can tell. Any- 
how after a short discussion with the Court the Kadi turned 
to me and said, * Doctor, there's some mistake. I am 
sorry you've been put to inconvenience ' (he calls several 
hours spent in prison and being dragged at night from 
one Konak to another an inconvenience !) ; 'if you can 
find bail I'll let you go at once.' There I stood utterly 
bewildered." 

" But how about the wounded zap tie ? " 

" They didn't say a word about him. As far as I can 
make out our Bey, either by himself or at some one else's 
suggestion, has found out there was some mistake, and 
must have put in his letter that he didn't consider I was 
guilty of that. Perhaps the zaptie himself admitted he was 
lying." 

Marko beamed with satisfaction. He thought that old 
Manola's son really had fired, and was anxious about the 
consequences. 

" Well, thank God, you're free now." 

" Yes, as you see. But wait a bit — there's something 
yet stranger to come," said the doctor, looking carefully 
round to assure himself that none of the family were within 
hearing. ' Chorbaji Nikolcho lent me his horse to come 
home with ; he also went bail for me. Well, as I was coming 
out of the town, just by the Jewish cemetery, I noticed two 
people coming towards me from the Balkan. One of them 
was Deacon Vikenti, and he called out to me to stop. 
* Where are you bound for, doctor ? ' he cried, surprised at 
seeing me at Hberty . ' I'm going home,' I said ; ' there was 
nothing the matter.' You should have seen him open his 
eyes ! I told him the whole story. Suddenly he throws his 
arms round my neck, and begins to kiss and hug me. ' Why, 
what's all this, deacon ? ' says I. ' I must introduce 
you to — to Mr. Boicho Ognianoff,' says he, taking me to 
his companion. I looked at him. What do you think ? 
It was the man to whom I had given my coat the night 
before ! " 

" What — old Manola's son ? " cried Marko involuntarily. 

*' Why — do you know him too ? " asked the doctor 
astounded. 

Marko shrank back. " Go on — we'll see," said he. 

" Well, we shook hands and made friends. He thanked 
me for my coat and begged my pardon most humbly. 



EXPLANATIONS 49 

* Don't mention it, Mr. Ognianoff,' I said, ' I never like to 
talk about any little thing I may do for anybody. But 
where are you going to, if I may ask ? ' ' Mr. Ognianoff 
was going to look for you,' answered Vikenti. ' For me ? ' 

* Yes, he wanted to rescue you ! ' 'To rescue me ? ' ' Yes,' 
by giving himself up to the authorities and confessing that 
he alone was guilty.' ' Do you mean to say that that's why 
you came here ? Ah, Mr. Ognianoff, what were you 
intending to do ? ' I asked, almost angrily. ' My duty,' he 
replied simply. Well, I couldn't help it. I burst out crying 
and put my arms round his neck, as if he had been my 
brother, there, in the middle of the road. There's a noble 
nature for you, Marko — there's real chivalry. That's the 
kind of man Bulgaria requires." 

Marko made no reply. Two tears flowed slowly down 
his cheeks. He was proud for old Manola's sake. 

The doctor remained silent a moment, then went on 
again. " We separated — they struck back across the fields, 
and I came straight on ; but I am still upset by the meeting, 
and especially by the changing of the papers. I tell you I 
saw with my own eyes the Nezavisimost, and the proclama- 
tion. How can they turn into the Zornitsa and Bogoroff's 
prospectus ? Who changed them ? Was it a mistake of 
the Bey's ? I've been puzzling over it for hours. What 
do you think of it, Marko ? " 

And the doctor clasped his hands and awaited the reply. 

Marko puffed at his chibouk thoughtfully, and then said, 
with an uncontrollable smile on his lips : 

'' Don't you understand that some friend must have 
done it ? How can it be a mistake ? Do you suppose the 
Zornitsa and Bogoroff's advertisements are likely to be 
found at the Bey's ? " 

" But who is the unknown benefactor who has saved me 
from peril, and Ognianoff from certain death ? Help me 
to find him — I must thank him — I must kiss his hands and 
his feet." 

Marko turned to the doctor, and said to him, in a low 
tone : 

" Doctor — listen. You must never breathe a word of 
what I am going to tell you as long as you live." 

" I give you my word of honour." 

" It was I who changed the papers." 

" You, Marko," exclaimed the doctor, with a start. 

D 



50 UNDER THE YOKE 

" Sit down, and listen quietly. This morning, very early, 
I went to Ganko's cafe, and it was from him that I heard 
you were arrested : this astonished and grieved me very 
much. As luck would have it, in came the on-bashi and 

told me you had been sent during the night to K , and 

that he was just going there too with the Bey's letter in 
which the fatal papers were enclosed. I didn't know what 
was to be done. The on-bashi stayed for some time, and 
then went out. Well, to my surprise, I noticed he'd left his 
letter behind . Ganko was busy shaving some one . It came 
into my head to take the letter and destroy it, but that 
wouldn't have helped you much — the suspicion would always 
have remained. What was to be done ? There was no 
time to think. Well, something occurred to me which I'd 
never even thought of all my life. See here, doctor ; I've 
grown grey in business, but I never yet opened a letter 
belonging to any one else before : I've always considered it 
the most dishonourable thing a man can do. God forgive 
me, but I did it this morning, for the first and last time. I 
rushed home, locked mysefi in the office, unfastened the 
red seal on the letter carefully, and put in the first two 
papers that came to hand — you know the Turks are not 
over sharp in these matters. Then I brought back the 
letter and left it in the place where I'd found it, without the 
cafe-keeper noticing me. Thank God, the thing came off 
all right — my conscience is easier now." 

The doctor listened, gasping, and then said with emotion : 

*' Marko, my gratitude to you is eternal. What you call 
dishonourable is noble — it's glorious. You have saved two 
lives from destruction at the risk of your own. There are 
few fathers who would do as much for their children." 

The doctor's emotion would not let him continue. 

Marko added : " Last night old Manola's son did come 
to see me, but he climbed over the wall, and that made aU 
the noise and brought the police." 

'' What, Boicho Ognianoff ? " 

*' Is that what you call him ? Yes, yes, that's the man. 
His father's a great friend of mine ; and he, poor fellow, 
not knowing any one else, came to me for shelter : it was you 
who directed him here. I didn't want to tell you this before 
Ivancho ; but he ran away the moment the police came." 

? Where was he coming from ? " asked the doctor com- 
pletely overcome by these successive revelations. 



THE NUNNERY 51 

" Didn't he teU you ? From Diarbekir." 

" From Diarbekir ! " 

" Not so loud — and where is he now ? " 

" He's at the monastery, where the deacon has under- 
taken to keep him hidden. I'm to go and see him there. 
Will you let me tell him — only him — what you've just told 
me ? He ought to know who it is to whom he owes his life, 
for he would certainly have given himself up if they hadn't 
released me." 

" No, no ; you've given me your word ; you're never to 
reveal it — on the contrary, try to forget it. I only told you 
as a kind of confession, to reheve my own conscience. As 
for old Manola's son, you can give him my best wishes, and 
say I shall be glad to see him here — only let him come in 
by the front door next time." 

CHAPTER X : THE NUNNERY 

The women's convent at Bela Cherkva * (white church) was 
the complete antithesis of the monastery already described 
as being entombed in the rocks of the Balkan and eternally 
silent and deserted. 

Here, on the contrary, were sixty or seventy sisters, young 
and old, gadding about all day in the quadrangle and 
galleries, and filling with mirthful sounds the broad enclo- 
sure which was the barrier between them and the vanities of 
this sinful world. They were perpetually on the move 
from morning till night. 

The convent had the reputation of being the most fertile 
hotbed of scandal in the whole city. It was the cradle of 
every bit of tittle-tattle which made the round of and scan- 
dalised the hearths of the erring laity of the town : it was 
there that betrothals were whispered of and prepared ; and, 
sometimes, impending marriages broken off too. From 
thence innocent little tales would set out on their way round 
the to\\Ti, and return, well and hearty, but magnified a 
hundredfold, or else completely metamorphosed ; naturally 
such a centre of gossip attracted troops of lay-friends, 
especially on feast-days, when these were regaled by the holy 
Sisters with stories of the town and morella -cherry preserves. 

* Better known under the name of Sopot, a little town about two 
miles from Karlovo, which is probably the town alluded to as " K " 
throughout the work. 



52 UNDER THE YOKE 

Sister Hajji Rovoama, whose acquaintance we have 
already made at her brother Yordan's, was renowned as the 
most skilful pryer into all the secrets of the town, and the 
most inveterate scandal-monger in it. She had at one time 
been the abbess — but a revolution in the little state had 
deposed her — none the less was she still, morally, the moving 
spirit of the community. Her advice was appealed to in 
every matter. She vouched for the accuracy of truthful 
rumours and exposed the incorrect : she had the prerogative 
of starting fresh tales, which afforded mental pabulum for 
the little republic for some days, after which they spread 
beyond the confines of the cloister. 

Sister Hajji Rovoama had been for some days enraged at 
the liberation of Dr. Sokoloff, the sworn foe of the convent. 
She cherished her malice in secret, asking herseK who could 
possibly have come to his assistance ? Who could it have 
been who had robbed her of the satisfaction of listening to 
and inventing every day new stories as to his fate ? The 
thing was disgraceful. Indeed, so much did she fret about 
it that for the last four or five nights she had not had a wink 
of sleep. She was continually cudgelling her brains to dis- 
cover firstly, why the Doctor had refused to tell the Bey 
where he had been at three o'clock on the eventful night of 
his arrest ; and, secondly, who had changed the papers. 
At last a brilliant idea flashed across her mind at the very 
moment when she was saying her prayers before going to 
bed. She clapped her hands for joy, like Archimedes when 
he discovered his great law of physics. She went straight 
to Sister Serafima, whom she found already undressed, and 
said in a voice that shook with excitement : 

" Sister, do you know where the doctor was that night, 
when he refused to tell the Bey ? " 

Sister Serafima pricked up her ears. 

" He was with the Bey's wife, my dear." 

" Do you think so, Hajji ? " 

" Of course, Serafima — else why shouldn't he say so ? Is 
he mad ? Holy Virgin ! and to think that I've only just 
found it out ! " said Hajji Rovoama, crossing herself before 
the eikonostasis. "And do you know who released the 
doctor ? " 

" Who, Sister ? " asked Serafima. 

" Why, she did, of course — the Bey's wife." 

" Really — you don't mean it ! " 



THE NUNNERY 53 

" My God ! Holy Virgin ! what can I have been thinking 
about all this time ? " And, having relieved her excited 
feelings, Sister Haj ji E-ovoama went o5, finished her prayers, 
and slept with the clear conscience of one who has done 
her duty. 

Next morning the whole convent was acquainted with the 
secret. The history of the doctor and the Bey's wife grew 
and assumed alarming proportions. 

Each Sister, as she heard it, asked : 

*' Who told you so ? " 

" Why, Sister Hajji Rovoama." 

The name disarmed the most sceptical : every one rushed 
to Hajji Rovoama for a detailed account. 

In two hours the story had spread all over the town. 

But every scandal, however interesting, grows stale in 
three days. Society was beginning to yawn and to clamour 
for more gossip. The appearance in the town of Kralich, 
whom hardly any one knew, was a godsend to the convent, 
which was at once busy with him. Who is he ? Where 
does he come from ? What is his business ? No one could 
answer these questions, though the most curious tales were 
current respecting him : but the only point in which these 
agreed was his name ; in all other particulars they were of 
the most contradictory nature. 

Sister Sofia alleged that he had come there for his health. 

Sister Ripsimia averred that he was a dealer in attar of 
roses.* 

Sister Nimfidora was sure he had come after an engage- 
ment as schoolmaster. 

Sister Solomona and Sister Parashkeva asserted that 
neither of these reports was correct ; that he had come 
there to look out for a wife ; and that, as a matter of fact, 
they knew on whom his choice had fallen. 

Sister Apraxia was ready to swear that he was a Russian 
prince in disguise, who had come to inspect the old fortress 
and distribute funds for their church. But less faith was 
attached to what Sister Apraxia said, because she was not 
on visiting terms with the best houses, but drew her infor- 
mation from the wife of Petko Buzzouniak or Fachko 
Dobiche's family. 

Sister Hajji Rovoama listened to all these confident 

* The scene where the story is laid is in the heart of the " Valley of 
Roses," where the famous attar is produced. 



54 UNDER THE YOKE 

assertions, and smiled behind her moustachios (of which 
Nature had been very prodigal to her). She knew all 
about it, but wanted to enjoy the efforts of the Sisters to 
find out the truth. The oracle declared itself only late at 
night. 

The next morning the whole convent knew that the 
stranger OgnianofE was a Turkish spy. 

One of the chief reasons — perhaps the only one — why 
Hajji Rovoama launched this unflattering rumour touching 
OgnianofE was the fact that he had not yet paid his respects 
to her : this was a mortal affront to her vanity, which gained 
for Ognianoff a relentless enemy. 

It was Sunday. Service was nearly over in the convent 
chapel, which was thronged with worshippers. Crowds 
stood outside under the chapel windows, beneath the spread- 
ing branches of the great pear tree. Most of these were 
young girls or married women from the town, all decked 
with flowers and arrayed in their brightest Sunday frocks, 
like dolls. They prattled merrily together, turning from 
time to time to the door to inspect the Sunday dresses of the 
other representatives of the fair sex who were continually 
flocking into the convent. The rest were nuns, mostly 
young, who were engaged, with no less merriment, in looking 
about them, giggling and laughing perpetually. From time 
to time they would rush forward in swarms to pick up the 
ripe golden pears as they fell from the tree, and occasionally 
a battle royal would ensue for the possession of the fruit, 
after which they would return heated and flushed to the rest 
of the worshippers, crossing themselves. 

Service was over. A stream of people emerged from the 
chapel and flowed into the cells. 

Hajji Rovoama's cell, though somewhat richly furnished, 
was small and could scarcely contain her guests. The nun 
received them with a gratified smile, whilst Rada, in a clean 
black frock and hood, went round serving preserves and 
coffee on a red tray. After an hour the stream began to 
decrease. Hajji Rovoama rose frequently to look from the 
window, as if she expected some special visitor. Soon a 
fresh batch came in, among whom was Alafranga, Stefchoff, 
Pope Stavri, Necho Pironkoff, and a young schoolmaster. 
Evidently it was these whom she was expecting. She gave 
a friendly greeting to her new visitors, who all shook hands 
also xvith Rada ; Stefchoff, indeed, gave her hand a pro- 



THE NUNNERY 55 

longed pressure, accompanied with a wink ; this threw the 
girl into a state of confusion, and she blushed rosy-red. 

" Kiriak, I want to ask you again about that business of 
the doctor's," the nun inquired after the usual greetings ; 
" there are all sorts of stories about it." 
" What stories ? " asked Stefchoff. 

" They say that you purposely tried to make the Bey be- 
lieve the papers were treasonable, so as to injure Sokoloff ." 

Stefchoff flamed up. " Whoever says that is a fool and a 
liar. The papers taken from his pocket were a copy of the 
Nezavisimost — No. 30 — ^and a proclamation. Necho was 
there ; he can tell you if I am speaking the truth." 
Necho promptly assented. 

" We don't require to ask Necho. What can Necho tell 
us ? " declared Pope Stavri. *' We know the whole busi- 
ness. Wherever the doctor goes he carries the gallows with 
him. I said so only last night to Selamsiz. I went to his 
house to taste his new raki — he knows just how much ani- 
seed to put in. But how are you. Sister ; are you all right? " 
" As you see, Father. I feel as young as they oungest of 
them," said the nun, who at once turned again to Stefchoff. 
" But don't you really know who changed the papers ? " 

Hajji Rovoama could scarcely keep her tongue from 
revealing her discovery. 
" The police will find out." 

" I wouldn't give a farthing for your police. Shall I tell 
you who it is — shall I ? " she grinned ; then bending over 
to hio ear, she whispered a name. But the secret was in so 
loud a whisper that the whole party heard it. Necho, the 
member, tossed his rosary up to the ceiling in glee ; the 
little schoolmaster looked meaningly, first at one, then at 
another ; and Pope Stavri interposed a pious ' Good Lord, 
lead us not into temptation ! " 
Rada fled in shame to the cellar. 

" There he is — there he is ! " cried Stefchoff, noticing 
Sokoloff as he passed through the courtyard with two 
friends. One was Vikenti and the other Kralich. All 
crowded to the window. 

This gave the nun an opportunity of disclosing her second 
discovery. " Do you know who he is ? " 

" What the stranger ? He's a certain Boicho Ognianoff," 
answered Stefchoff ; " but he looks to me as if he had some- 
thing to do with the Committee too," 



56 UNDER THE YOKE 

Haj ji Rovoama shook her head in sign of dissent. 

*' Don't you think so ? " asked Stefchoff. 

" No, no ; he's another sort altogether." 

" He's a revolutionary, I'll be bound." 

" Not he — a spy," answered the nun authoritatively. 

Stefchoff glanced at her in amazement. 

" Everybody knows it but you." 

" Anathema upon him," cried Pope Stavri. 

Hajji Rovoama watched jealously to see where they 
would go in. 

" They've gone in to Sister Christina's cell," she cried. 

Sister Christina had an evil reputation. She passed for a 
patriot, and was connected with the Committees. Levski 
had once spent the night in her cell. 

" It's curious how fond the deacons are of Sister 
Christina , ' ' added Haj j i Rovoama with a bitter smile . "Do 
you know that Vikenti's going to throw up the frock ? And 
quite right too, poor boy — he became a monk too young." 

" He did right — you must either marry early or else 
become a monk early," affirmed Pope Stavri. 

" Well, I agree with you as to the first." 

" Hush ! hush ! for shame ! '* 

*' He's going to send an offer of marriage to Orlianko's 
daughter. If she accepts him, he'll throw up the frock 
and they'll be married in Roumania. But I think she'll 
have nothing to say to him," and the nun cast an attentive 
and protecting glance at the little schoolmaster, for whom 
she was preparing the girl just alluded to. The school- 
master blushed with confusion. 

Just then fresh visitors arrived. 

" Ah ! there's brother ! " cried Rovoama, running to 
meet Yordan Diamandieff. 

The visitors rose and followed her out. Stefchoff 
remained a little behind the rest, seized Rada's hand to 
say goodbye and pinched her blushing cheek. She slapped 
him on the face and recoiled from him. 

" Aren't you ashamed of yourself ? " she murmured, 
choking, and fled with tears in her eyes to her own cell. 

Stefchoff, who was as unmannerly with women as he was 
conceited and pompous with men, adjusted the tassel of 
his fez which had been disarranged by the blow, gazed 
menacingly after Rada, and left the house looking vexed. 



RADA'S TRIALS 57 

CHAPTER XI : RADA'S TRIALS 
Rada Gospojina, as she was called to show that she be- 
longed to the " Gospoja " (Sister) Hajji Rovoama, was a 
tall, slender, and pretty girl, mth regular features, and a 
frank and simple countenance ; her face looked still whiter 
and prettier from under the black hood she wore. 

Rada had been an orphan from her earliest years, and 
had lived nearly all her life under the roof of Hajji Rovo- 
ama, who had taken charge of her while yet a baby. Her 
protectress had made a " probationer " of her — that is to 
say, a girl who is preparing to become a nun, and obliged 
her to wear the regulation black. At present Rada acted 
as teacher in the lowest class at the girl's school, for which 
she received a salary of ten pounds a year. 

The lot of all orphan girls is a hard one. Too soon bereft 
of a father's love and protection, as well as the tender care 
of a mother, exposed to the kindness or cruelty of the world, 
they grow up without ever an affectionate encouraging smile 
being bestowed on them, surrounded by the indifferent faces 
of strangers. They are like plants which have sprouted and 
bloomed in some dark cellar, joyless and unscented. Let 
but a gladdening ray of kindly light fall upon them, and 
their hidden perfume scents the air. 

Rada had grown up in the pernicious and suffocating 
atmosphere of convent life, under the severe unsympathetic 
supervision of the old mischief-maker, and in the power of 
that stony-hearted woman, who had never experienced the 
holy feelings of maternal love : her young soul had pined 
in the foul and marshy soil of conventual malice and tale- 
bearing. It never for a moment occurred to Hajji Rovoama 
that she might have behaved more humanely to the orphan ; 
she was too busy with her intrigues to see that her despotism 
was daily becoming more felt and more insupportable to 
Rada, in proportion as the girl's nature developed and her 
seK-respect increased. That is how Rada, though a school- 
mistress, was to be seen waiting at table at the house of 
Hajji Rovoama's brother Yordan. 

For some days Rada had been very busy, because the 
annual examination-day was approaching. The eventful 
morning arrived. The girls began to flock into school quite 
early, all decked out and arrayed in their best by their 
mothers. They flitted about like a swarm of bees. 



58 UNDER THE YOKE 

conning their lessons over yet once more before the 
examination. 

Church was over and people began to crowd into the 
schoolhouse, according to the custom, to be present at the 
examination. The doors, windows, and platform, were 
tastefully decorated with flowers, and the picture of Saints 
Kiril and Metod * was half hidden by a gorgeous frame of 
roses festooned with garlands of ivy. The front benches 
were soon filled up by the pupils, and the rest of the floor 
was occupied by the spectators, the most important being in 
front, and some of these were even provided with chairs, 
amongst the latter being several of our acquaintances. But 
a few empty seats still remained for such distinguished 
visitors as might yet come. Meanwhile, Rada was busily 
marshalling her pupils along the benches, and whispering to 
them a few last instructions. Her sweet face was flushed 
with excitement on this momentous day, and her great 
moist eyes made her look prettier than ever. Transparent 
rosy clouds flitted across her cheeks and showed the agita- 
tion of her simple soul. Rada felt that a hundred curious 
looks were directed towards her, and the thought made her 
shy and uncomfortable. But when the head schoolmistress 
began her speech, and everybody's attention was fixed on 
her, Rada felt a great relief, and began to pluck up her 
courage. She even ventured to look round her ; with de- 
light she noticed the absence of Kiriak Stefchoff. The 
speech ended in solemn silence, the custom of applauding 
not having yet been introduced. The examination began 
as appointed in the programme, with the little ones in the 
lowest class. The kind pleasant face of the head teacher and 
her encouraging speech had inspired the children with confi- 
dence. Rada followed the children's replies with the closest 
attention, and every little blunder they made was reflected 
by a painful contraction of her features. But their clear, 
ringing little voices, their tiny red lips which seem to attract 
kisses, decided their fate. She caressed them with her 
glance, encouraged them with a heavenly smile, and tried to 
instil her whole soul into their faltering little lips. 

At that moment the crowd standing at the door divided 
and made way for two belated guests, who passed along 

* The pioneers of Slavonic civilisation, who introduced Christianity 
into Bulgaria, in the tenth century, and were the authors of the Cyrillic 
alphabet. -— 



RADA'S TRIALS 6^ 

quietly and sat down, in the empty seats. Rada looked up 
and saw them. The elder of the two was the chairman of 
the School Committee — Chorbaji Micho — the other was 
Kiriak Stefchoff . Involuntarily she grew pale with dismay. 
But she tried hard not to see his face, which filled her with 
aversion and terror. 

Eariak Stefchoff exchanged a few nods of recognition, 
without, however, greeting his neighbour, Sokoloff , who did 
not look at him : he crossed his legs and assumed a haughty 
and defiant air. He listened carelessly, glancing every now 
and then towards a comer where Lalka, Yordan's daughter, 
was standing with her friends. Once or twice only he 
scanned Rada from head to foot, sternly and contemptu- 
ously. His face expressed only self-conceit and ferocity. 
From time to time he sniffed at a carnation which he held 
in his hand. The teacher, Clement, handed the book to 
Alafranga Mikhalaki, who, however, waved it away, saying 
he would examine the children in French. The teacher 
turned to the right and offered the book this time to 
Stefchoff, who took it and moved his chair forward. 

A dull murmur arose from the crowd. Everybody stared 
at Kiriak. The subject for examination was the abridged 
history of Bulgaria. Stefchoff laid the book on the table, 
passed his hands through his hair as if to refresh his 
memory, and propounded a question aloud. The child 
remained silent. The cold, repellent look of the examiner 
froze her very soul to ice ; she became confused, and did 
not even remember the question, but glanced piteously at 
Rada, as if to implore her aid. Stefchoff repeated his ques- 
tion, but only a fresh silence followed. 

" Let the child go and call another," he said coldly to the 
teacher. 

Another child appeared, and the question was put to her. 
She heard it without understanding a word, and remained 
speechless. Silence reigned also among the spectators, 
who began to experience a painful sensation. The little 
girl stood as if transfixed, but her eyes filled with tears 
of mortification, which she was even too frightened to 
shed. She tried to speak, but the effort was too much 
for her. 

" The subject appears to have been very carelessly taught 
indeed. Please call another pupil." 

Rada sadly uttered the name of a pupil. 



60 UNDER THE YOKE 

The third child auswered quite at random ; she had not 
understood the question. Seeing a look of disapproval on 
Stefchoff's face she lost her self-control, and began to look 
round her in despair. Stefchoff put another question. 
This time the child did not answer at all. Her confusion 
was apparent ; her lips quivered, bloodless ; suddenly she 
burst into tears, and ran to hide herself where her mother 
was sitting. Everybody seemed to feel oppressed. The 
mothers whose daughters had not yet been called up looked 
on in doubt and fear, each one trembling lest she should 
hear her daughter's name. 

Rada stood like one thunderstruck. Not a drop of blood 
remained in her face ; her cheeks quivered and her bosom 
heaved with agitation. She did not dare to raise her eyes. 
She seemed to herself to be sinking into the ground ; a 
feeling of intense oppression seized her, and it was all she 
could do to restrain her tears. 

The audience was unable to endure this extreme tension 
any longer, and murmurs of disapproval were heard. 
People looked at each other astounded, as if to ask, What 
does all this mean ? Everybody was anxious to put an 
end to this impossible state of things. Only Stefchoff's 
triumphant countenance expressed satisfaction. The mur- 
muring grew louder. Suddenly an ominous silence reigned ; 
everybody turned to Boicho Ognianoff, who had risen and 
walked up to Stefchoff. 

" Excuse me, sir," he said firmly. " I have not the 
pleasure of jour acquaintance, but your questions are so 
abstract and so obscure that they would puzzle fifth-form 
pupils. It is not fair to these poor children." 
Then turning to Rada, he asked : 

" Will you allow me, miss ? " Then, as he stood, he 
begged her to call up one of the children who had failed. 

A general feeling of relief followed. A murmur of sym- 
pathy and approval greeted Ognianoff's proceeding. In 
a moment he had drawn all eyes to himself and gained the 
good wishes of all. The calumny launched by Hajji 
Rovoama fell to the ground. His open countenance, pale 
with suffering and illuminated by a manly and energetic 
look, won over all hearts irresistibly. The faces of the 
spectators brightened ; they breathed again. Every one 
saw with satisfaction that Ognianoff was master of the 
situation. 



RADA'S TRIALS 61 

Ognianoff asked the child, in simple words, the very same 
question which Stefchoff had put to her. This time she 
answered correctly. The mothers revived, and cast grateful 
glances at the stranger. His name, which was new and 
strange, passed from mouth to mouth, and remained 
engraved on their hearts. 

Another child was called up. She, too, answered as 
satisfactorily as could be expected from a child of her age. 

Then all these children, who a moment ago had been in 
a state of wild terror, began to cast friendly glances at 
Ognianoft. Their spirits rose ; each was anxious to be 
called first so as to go and talk with that kind man, whom 
they all Hked now. 

Rada passed from one emotion to another. Dum- 
foundered, despairing, moved to tears but a moment ago, 
she now looked gratefully at the kind and courageous 
stranger who had come to her assistance at so critical a 
moment. It was the first time she had ever met with such 
warm and brotherly sympathy — and from a stranger too. 
He a spy ! As he stoo^ there he seemed to her a guardian 
angel. He had crushed Stefchoff like a worm. She was 
triumphant ; she breathed freely, and looked proudly and 
happily on every side : on every side she met sympathetic 
glances. Her heart melted with a grateful emotion, and 
her eyes filled with tears. 

Ognianoff addressed the third child in these words : 

" Raina, my dear, can you tell me what Bulgarian Tsar 
introduced Christianity among us — made us Christians ? " 

And he looked kindly and gently into the innocent little 
eyes turned up to him, which still bore traces of tears. 

The little girl hesitated for a minute, faltered with her 
lips, and then in a clear ringing treble, like the moming-note 
of the lark, she answered : 

" King Boris introduced Christianity among the Bul- 
garians." 

" Bravo, Raina ; quite right. Now can you tell me who 
invented the Bulgarian alphabet ? " 

The question puzzled the child a little. She tried to bring 
herself to speak, but her timidity overcame her and she 
nearly broke down. 

Ognianoff came to her assistance. " I mean our ABC, 
dear — who found it out ? " 

The child's countenance lighted up. Raina stretched out 



62 UNDER THE YOKE 

her little arm, bare to the elbow, without uttering a word, 
and pointed to SS. Earil and Metod, who were looking down 
on her approvingly. 

" That's right, darling ; SS. Kiril and Metod," exclaimed 
several of the spectators in the front row. 

" Well done, Eaina. May SS. Kiril and Metod protect 
you and grant you to become a queen," cried Pope Stavri, 
much moved. 

" Bravo, Raina ; you may go," said Ognianoff kindly. 

Rama, proud and triumphant, ran to her mother, who 
took her in her arms, pressed her to her heart, and covered 
her with fond and foolish caresses and tears. 

Ognianoff turned to the teacher Kliment and handed back 
the book to him. 

" Won't you examine my Subka, sir ? " asked Chorbaji 
Micho of Ognianoff. 

A bright-looking, fair-haired little girl was already in 
front of him, watching him with an air of pleased expecta- 
tion. Ognianoff thought for a moment, and asked : 

" Subka, can you tell me what Tsar it was that freed the 
Bulgarians from the Greek yoke ? " 

" The Bulgarians were freed from the Turkish yoke by 
..." the child began erroneously. 

" No, no, Subka," cried her father. " You're to tell us 
by what Tsar they were freed from the Greek yoke. We all 
know what Tsar is to free us from the Turkish yoke." 

" What God has decreed no man can prevent," said Pope 
Stavri. 

Chorbaji Micho 's simple remark caused much laughter in 
the audience. 

Subka cried eagerly : " The Bulgarians were freed from 
the Greek yoke by Tsar Asen, but they will be freed from 
the Turkish yoke by Tsar Alexander of Russia." 

She had misunderstood her father's words. 

The schoolroom rang with the child's words. 

But annoyance and disapproval were depicted on many 
faces. All glanced mechanically at Rada, who bltished and 
hung her head. Some of the glances cast on her were of 
reproof, others of approbation. But every one felt uncom- 
fortable. Stefchoff had recovered from his temporary down- 
fall ; he raised his head and looked round triumphantly. 
Every one knew of his intimate relations with the Bey, and 
his habit of fawning to the Turks ; and they tried to read 



RADA'S TRIALS 68 

from his face what he thought. Public feeling, which but a 
moment before had been warmly in favour of Rada and 
OgnianofP, cooled do^\T^ and was replaced by a dull sense 
of dismay. Stefchoff's connections began to murmur their 
disapproval in audible tones, and those who were well- 
disposed to the poor teacher remained silent. Poor old 
Pope Stavri was overwhelmed with confusion. He was 
afraid for what he had said, and in his heart uttered a 
fervent " Good Lord, have mercy upon us." But the two 
camps were more sharply defined on the women's side. 
Hajji Rovoama, especially, enraged at Stefchoff's previous 
discomfiture, looked daggers at Rada and Ognianoff and 
blamed them aloud. She even called the latter a rebel, 
forgetting that only a few days before she had proclaimed 
him to be a spy. But there were others who were just as 
loud in their defence. Mother Ghinka cried so that all 
could hear her : 

" Wliat's everybody making such a fuss about ? The 
child hasn't blasphemed, has she ? She's only said the 
plain truth. There, I don't mind saying so myself, that 
Tsar Alexandri will liberate us, and no one else." 
" Be quiet, you stupid," whispered her mother. 
As for Subka, she was quite bewildered. She had only 
said what she had heard her father or his visitors say every 
day, and she could not conceive why her words should have 
caused such a commotion. 

Stefchoff got up and turned to the spectators in the front 
rows : 

" Gentlemen," he said, " revolutionary ideas are being 
expressed against the Government of H.I.M. the Sultan. 
I cannot stop here and listen to such language." 

He went out, followed by Necho Pironkoff and three 
or four others. But his example found no other imitators. 

After a minute's excitement people began to see that the 
incident did not deserve special attention. A child had in 
her innocence spoken a few misplaced words — but what 
of that ? Calm was restored, and with it the previous 
feeling of sympathy towards Ognianoff, who from every 
side of the room received friendly glances. He was the 
hero of the day ; he had on his side all the honest-minded 
and all the mothers. 

The examination proceeded and came to an end in perfect 
quiet. 



64 UNDER THE YOKE 

The pupils sang a song and the people dispersed satisfied. 
When Ognianoff approached Rada to take leave of her, she 
said to him earnestly, " Mr. Ognianoff, I thank you heartily 
both for myself and my little girls. I shall never forget 
your kindness " ; so saying she gave him a look in which 
deep gratitude was expressed. 

" My dear young lady, I have been a teacher myself, 
and felt for you — that's all. I congratulate you on the 
success of your pupils," said Ognianoff, with a warm and 
friendly grasp of the hand. After he had gone, Rada 
noticed no one of all the visitors who came to congratulate 
and shake hands with her. 

CHAPTER XII : BOlCHO OGNIANOFE 
The appearance in the town of Boicho Ognianoff (for 
Kralich had definitely assumed the name by which Vikenti 
had introduced him to Sokoloff at their first meeting in the 

cemetery at K ) naturally enough drew upon him general 

attention. There had been a long discussion as to what 
he should do, in which his three friends Vikenti, Dr. Sokoloff 
and the Higoumen had taken part. At first they were of 
opinion that he ought not to show himself in public ; but 
Ognianoff was able to disarm their apprehensions with ease. 
He assured them that he was from distant Widdin, where 
nobody from Bela Cherkva, except Marko Ivanoff , had ever 
been — that he had been so long absent that no one, even 
from there, would recognise him, the sufferings of eight 
years' exile in Asia, coupled with the climate, having aged 
him so much and changed him so completely. 

But so far from his enthusiasm for the ideas for which 
he had suffered having been calmed down by exile and 
suffering, they had made him a still more fervent idealist — 
bold to madness, frienzied in his love for his country, and 
chivalrous to the degree of self-sacrifice. Fateful occasions 
have already sl^own him to us at work. Aye, he had come 
to Bulgaria to work for its liberation. Such a man, who 
had escaped from exile and Avas living under an assumed 
name, who was bound by no family or social ties, exposed at 
every minute to be betrayed or discovered, without any 
future or purpose in life, could have been brought to Bulgaria, 
or have been kept there after the double deed of blood he 
had committed, only by some such great purpose as this. 



BOiCHO OGNIANOFF 65 

How could he work so as to bring about some result ? 
What was the field afforded for his labours ? What could 
he do ? Was his aim possible of attainment ? He could 
not tell. All that he knew was that he would encounter 
great difficulties and dangers, which indeed began to beset 
him at the very beginning of his labours. 

But, for such chivalrous natures as his, difficulty and 
danger are but the anvil against which their strength is 
hardened and welded. They are strengthened by opposi- 
tion, attracted by persecution, nourished by danger ; for 
these constitute a struggle, and every struggle fortifies and 
ennobles. It is beautiful in the worm which raises its head 
to bite the foot about to crush it ; it is heroical when under- 
taken by a man for self-preservation ; it is divine when it 
is on behalf of humanity. 

In the first few days Hajji Rovoama's calumny had 
averted from him many with whom his friends wished him 
to become acquainted. But his triumph at the examina- 
tions, occasioned by Stefchoff's baseness, had in a moment 
closed the mouths of his traducers, and opened to him all 
doors and all hearts. Ognianoff became the favourite guest 
of the whole hamlet. He gladly accepted the offer by Marko 
Ivanoff and Micho Beyzade of a situation as teacher, so as 
to have some ostensible grounds for remaining there. His 
colleagues were : Climent Belcheff, the head teacher ; 
Frangoff ; the pupil-teacher Popoff ; and the chorister 
Stefan Merdivenjieff, who was the teacher of the Turkish 
language. The first named was a Russian seminarist, and 
as such an agreeable, unpractical visionary ; when the 
superintendents called on him he recited to them lines 
from Khomiakoff and Derjavin's " God." Chorbaji Marko 
would have preferred stories on the greatness of Russia, or 
about Bonaparte. The third was a hot and excitable youth, 
a former friend of Levski's, who dreamt only of committees, 
revolutions, and insurgents. He hailed with delight his 
new colleague, to whom he at once became passionately 
devoted. The only uncongenial person was Merdivenjieff, 
with his devotion to the psalter and his love for the Turkish 
language. The first showed a mind gone to rust ; the 
second, one who bows beneath the lash. For a Bulgarian 
who likes the Turkish language must either love the Turks 
themselves or expect some reward from them. Naturally 
this coincidence of tastes united him with Stefchoff. 



66 UNDER THE YOKE 

In accordance with the duties he had undertaken, 
Ognianoff taught both in the boys' and in the girls' school ; 
consequently he met Rada every day. Every time he saw 
her he discovered fresh charms in the young girl, and one 
fine morning he awoke to find himself deeply in love with 
her. Need it be said that she already loved him in secret ? 
From the day when he had so chivalrously come to her 
assistance she had been filled with that potent feeling of 
warm gratitude which in a moment gives way to love. Her 
poor little heart, thirsting after sympathy and affection, was 
at once seized with an ardent, pure, and boundless love for 
Ognianoff. In him she saw realised the dim ideal of her 
dreams and her hopes, and under the beneficent influence 
of this new emotion Rada bloomed and flourished like a 
rose in May. 

Two such pure and honest natures were fated to under- 
stand each other without need of a lengthy acquaintance, or 
much preliminary intercourse. Every day Ognianoff found 
a greater joy and relief in her conversation. His love for 
her grew and flourished in his heart by the side of that 
other great love he had for his country. The one was a 
giant pine, ready to withstand the furious storm-blast, the 
other, a lowly flower, thirsting for sun and dew ; both grew 
on the same soil, but the rays which the sun shed on the 
one did not reach the other. 

Yet his heart was often oppressed by sad thoughts which 
fell on it like lead. What would become of this innocent 
creature, whose fate was becoming entwined with his own 
uncertain destiny ? Whither was he leading her ? What 
would be their end ? He, the combatant, the man of perils 
and adversity, was he to draw towards his terrible path this 
pure, loving child, whose life was only now beginning to 
expand under the kindly fostering of love ? She sought for 
and awaited from him a secure and happy future, joyful and 
untroubled bliss beneath the new heavens his love had 
created for her. Why was this poor girl to share the cruel 
blows fate was preparing for him alone ? 

No, it was his duty to disclose all to her, to pluck from 
her eyes the veil of blindness, and to show her with what 
manner of man she was uniting her lot. These thoughts 
weighed heavily on his mind, and he determined to seek 
relief in a full and open confession of the truth. 

He sought out Rada. 



BOiCHO OGNIANOFF 67 

She had now left the convent and was living in one of the 
rooms of the school, modestly and even poorly furnished. 
The only ornament the room boasted was its occupant. 

Ognianoff knocked at the door and went in. 

Rada received him with a smile on her tearful face. 

" Rada, you've been crying ? What is it, darling ? " and 
he tenderly clasped her head and caressed her blushing 
cheeks. 

She drew back, wiping her eyes. 

" What's the matter, dear ? " asked Ognianoff surprised. 

" Sister Hajji Rovoama has just been here," answered 
Rada in a broken voice. 

" Has she been vexing and ill-treating you again ? Tell 
me all about it. Why, some one has been trampling on my 
songs ! " 

" You see, Boicho, the Sister threw them down, and tram- 
pled on them — she found them on the table — ' Revolution- 
ary songs,' she called them, and then she abused you in such 
terrible words. How can I help crying ? " 

Ognianoff became serious. 

" What terrible things did she say of me ? " 

" What didn't she say ? She called you a rebel, a bandit, 
a murderer ! My God, how can she be so merciless ! " 

Ognianoff looked thoughtfully at Rada, and said : 

" Listen to me, Rada, you and I are friends, but we don't 
know each other yet ; or rather you don't know me. The 
fault is mine. Do you think you could love me if I really 
was the kind of man they say I am ? " 

" No, dear ; I know very well you're the most honourable 
man in the world — that's why 1 love you " ; so saying she 
clung to his neck like a child, and looked lovingly into his 
eyes. 

He smiled bitterly, moved by her simple faith. 

" And don't you know me well enough ? Else how could 
we have fallen in love with each other ? " whispered Rada, 
still clinging to him. 

Ognianoff kissed her affectionately, and said : 

" Rada, my darling, if I am to be an honourable man, as 
you call me, I must tell you things you know nothing about. 
My love for you has kept me back till now, for fear of pain- 
ing you, but my conscience impels me to speak. You must 
know to whom you are binding yourself. I have no right 
to remain silent any longer." 



68 UNDER THE YOKE 

" Tell me all — ^you'll always be the same to me," she said, 
with emotion. 

Ognianoff made her sit down, aud seated himself beside 
her. 

" Rada, Hajji Rovoama says that I am a rebel. She 
doesn't know what she means — she calls every decent youth 
a rebel." 

" Yes, dear, she's a very wicked woman." 

" But I really am a rebel, Rada." 

Rada looked at him astounded. 

" Yes, Rada, and a real rebel, too, busy preparing an 
insurrection." 

She sat motionless without uttering a word. 

" We intend to begin the insurrection next spring. 
That's why I came here." Rada remained silent. 

" That is my future — a future full of uncertainty and 
danger." 

Rada looked at him in dumb surprise, but said nothing. 

Ognianoff saw his fate in her cold silence. At every word 
he said the girl's devotion to him was dissolving into air. 
He made an effort to keep calm, and proceeded with his 
confession. 

" That is my future ; now I must tell you my past life." 

Rada fixed her troubled glance on him. 

"It is still darker, if not more terrible, Rada. Do you 
know that for eight years I was imprisoned in Asia for a 
political offence, and that I am a fugitive from Diarbekir, 
Rada ! " 

Rada made no reply. 

" Tell me, Rada, did the Sister say anything of all this ? " 

" No ; she knows nothing of it," answered Rada faintly. 

Ognianoff remained deep in thought for a moment, and 
added : 

" She called me a murderer and an assassin. She knows 
nothing of that either, Rada ! She called me a spy only a 
few days ago — but listen." 

This time Rada felt something terrible was coming. She 
grew deadly pale. 

" Listen ! I killed two men — and not very long ago." 

Rada recoiled from him involuntarily. 

Ognianoff did not dare to look at her ; he was addressing 
the wall ; his heart seemed as if being crushed in an iron 
vice. 



THE ROAD TO SILISTRIA 69 

" Yes, I killed two Turks — I, who had never harmed a 
fly before in my life. I was bound to kill them, or they 
would have violated a girl before my eyes — before me and 
her father, whom they had bound. Yes, I'm a murderer, 
and Diarbekir again awaits me, if not indeed the gallows ! " 

Rada turned and looked strangely at him. 

" Go on — go on," she murmured wildly. 

"I've told you all ; you know who I am now," answered 
Ognianoff in a quivering voice. He waited to hear the 
terrible sentence he could already read in her face. 

Rada flung herself into his arms. 

" You're mine ! " she cried. " You're the noblest man 
living — you're my hero, my beloved, beautiful hero ! " 

And the two young lovers clasped each other in a fond 
and passionate embrace, frenzied with love and happiness. 

CHAPTER XIII : THE ROAD TO SILISTRIA '^^^ 

Such was the name given to a delightful grassy meadow in 
the valley of the monastery, surrounded by branching 
willows and tall walnuts and elms. Though it was already 
late autumn, this sweet and shady spot still preserved intact 
all its greenness and freshness, like Calypso's isle where 
eternal spring reigned. Through the spreading branches 
could be seen, north of this happy valley, two peaks of the 
Stara Planina — the Crooks and the Point. Between these 
stretched the main ridge of the Balkans, with its sharp 
precipices and jagged rocks, below which murmured and 
sparkled the rill. The cool mountain breeze softly fanned 
the leaves, and brought the scent of the Balkans as well as 
the murmur of the mills nearer. On the other side gleamed 
the dry, bleached beds of the torrents which the winter 
floods had scooped and hollowed out. The sun was at its 
highest, and its rays, darting through the trees, rained on 
the grass a shower of quivering flakes, round and golden. 
A marvellous coolness and quiet reigned in that poetic spot, 
which bore nevertheless so prosaic and inaccurate a name. 
For no road, either to Silistria or anywhere else, had ever 
passed through the lonely meadow, which nestled so grace- 
fully beneath the hereabouts inaccessible Stara Planina. It 
owed its designation not to its geographical situation, but to 
a totally different and, so to speak, historical circumstance. 
The pleasant coolness of this retired spot had made it for 



70 UNDER THE YOKE 

many years past the favourite rendezvous for all picnics, 
merrymakings, and orgies. It was in this Capua that many 
a merry tradesman of Bela Cherkva, many a spendthrift 
heir had made their money fly in a too prodigal conviviality : 
when all was spent the decave, as a matter of course, took 
the road to Silistria, where, thanks to the fertility of the 
country and the backwardness of its inhabitants, an easily 
earned livelihood — sometimes even a fortune — was to be 
found : and the success of the first emigrants from Bela 
Cherkva had attracted others to the promised land — the 
Plains of Silistria. 

In this manner Silistria and its surrounding villages had 
received quite a number of the roysterers of Bela Cherkva, 
who acted as the pioneers of civilisation in that benighted 
country ; for, amongst others, they had supplied it with a 
round dozen of popes and upwards of twenty school-teachers. 
So that for the inhabitants of our hamlet it was the most 
direct road to Silistria. 

In spite of its fatal significance, the glory of the " Road to 
SiHstria " continued to flourish and to attract all who had 
a taste for jaunts and merrymaking ; nor were these few in 
number, for with all its hardships bondage has yet this one 
advantage : it makes a nation merry. Where the arena of 
political and scientific activity is closely barred, where the 
desire of rapid enrichment finds no stimulant, and far- 
reaching ambition has no scope for its development, the 
community squanders its energy on the trivial and personal 
cares of its daily life, and seeks relief and recreation in 
simple and easily obtainable material enjoyment. A flask 
of wane sipped beneath the cool shade of the willows by 
some clear murmuring rivulet will make one forget one's 
slavery ; the native guvech (stew) with its purple egg-plants, 
fragrant parsley, and sharp pepper-pods, enjoyed on the 
grass under the spreading branches overhead, through 
which peeps the blue distant sky, constitutes a kingdom, 
and if only there be a gipsy piper present, is the height of 
earthly bliss. An enslaved nation has a philosophy of its 
o\^Ti which reconciles it to its lot. When a man is irretriev- 
ably ruined, he often puts a bullet through his head or ends 
his life in some equally rapid and decisive manner. But a 
nation, however hopeless its bondage, never ends its own 
existence ; it eats, drinks, begets children. It enjoys itself. 
If one but look at the poetry of a nation, one finds clearly 



THE ROAD TO SILISTRIA 71 

expressed the national spirit, the nation's life, and its views 
of existence. There, amid cruel torments, heavy chains, 
dark dungeons, and festering wounds, is yet interwoven the 
mention of fat, roasted lambs, jars of red wine, potent raki, 
interminable marriage feasts, and mazy dances on the green 
sward beneath the shade ; these form the subject of a whole 
anthology of national songs. 

By the time that Sokoloff and Ognianoff arrived, the 
" Road to Silistria " was already echoing with the shouts of 
the gay company. There were present, amongst others, 
Nikolai Netkovitch, an educated and enlightened youth ; 
Kandoff, a student at a Russian university, who had come 
to the Balkan for the benefit of his health, a man of wide 
reading but a thorough idealist, imbued with all the Utopias 
of Socialism ; Fratio-Frangoff, the teacher, a hot-headed 
youth ; Popoff, an exalted patriot ; Pope Dimcho, also a 
patriot, and at the same time a drunkard ; and Blind Kolcho. 
The latter, who was completely blind, was a shrivelled-up 
little fellow with a thin and wizened but intelligent face ; he 
played the flute with much skill, and was accustomed to 
wander over the length and breadth of Bulgaria, his powers 
as a wit and story-teller rendering him an indispensable 
guest at all festivities. 

The meal was already laid out on a bright rug on the 
grass. Two great demi -Johns — one of red wine, the other 
of white — were cooUng in the mill-stream which flowed 
below the meadow. A party of gipsies were merrily fiddling 
away and singing Turkish love songs lustily. A clarionet 
and two cymbals completed the noisy orchestra. The meal 
was a merry one. Toasts followed fast, being drunk sitting, 
as was then the custom. 

The first toast was proposed by Ilicho the Inquisitive. 

" Here's a health to all of us, boys ! To all of us God 
grant whatever most we want. May He His fear instil in 
those who wish us ill, and send His wrath on those who 
fain would be our foes." 

Glasses clashed gaily. 

" Long live all of us ! " cried FrangofiE. 

" I drink to the ' road to Sihstria ' and its pilgrims ! '* 
declared Pope Dimcho. 

Popoff raised his glass, and cried : 

" Brothers, to the Lion of the Balkans ! " 

The music, which had ceased, now struck up again and 



72 UNDER THE YOKE 

interrupted the toasts : but Fratio, who had not yet pro- 
posed his, beckoned to the gipsies to stop, rose to his feet, 
and said enthusiastically, glass in hand : 

" Gentlemen, I propose the health of Bulgarian liberie. 
Vivat ! " And he emptied his glass. But the company, 
who did not quite understand what he meant, kept their 
glasses full, thinking from his excited air that he meant to 
make a speech. Fratio was astonished at meeting with no 
response, became confused, and sat down again. 

" What is it you mean, sir ? " asked KandofE coldly, 
turning to Fratio. Fratio frowned. 

" I thought I had made myself quite intelligible, sir," he 
said : " I drank to Bulgarian Liberty ! " The last word he 
spoke low, with a look of suspicion at the gipsies. 

" But what do you understand by liberty ? " insisted the 
student. 

Sokoloff turned to them. 

" I think we ought rather to drink to Bulgarian bondage. 
Bulgarian Liberty does not exist." 

" Not yet, but we will get it." 

*' How will you get it ? " 

" By drinking its health," said some one ironically. 

" No, by fighting for it," cried Fratio, in excitement. 

*' All right, Fratio, you try, then — an ox is bound by the 
horns, but a man by his word." 

" The sword, gentlemen, the sword ! " and Fratio shook 
his fist frenziedly. 

" Then I drink to the sword, the God of slaves," said 
Ognianoff, raising his glass. 

This electrified the assemblage. 

" Agoush," cried some one, *' play * Proud Nikifor* deter- 
mined,' " which was then the Bulgarian Marseillaise. 

The music struck up and the whole party began to sing ; 
when they came to the line " Strike, slay, until the land be 
freed ! " the excitement became intense, and knives and 
forks were brandished in frenzy. 

Fratio had seized a huge knife, with which he was slashing 
the atmosphere. With one wild gesticulation he struck a 
large glass of red wine that the boy was taking to some one. 
The wine was spilt, and Fratio's Hght summer coat and 
trousers were drenched. 

* An allusion to the defeat of the Byzantine Emperor Nikifor (Nice- 
phorus) by the Bulgarians in a.d. 811. 



THE ROAD TO SILISTRIA 78 

" Fool ! " cried Fratio. 

*' Don't be angry, Gospodin Fratio," said Pope Dimcho ; 
*' don't you know that where there is striking and slaying 
blood will be spilt ? " 

At this stage every one was shouting his loudest, and 
each was inaudible to the other, for the musicians were 
playing a Turkish march, with a deafening accompaniment 
of cymbals. 

Ognianoff and Kandoff had separated from the others 
and were carrying on a discussion under a tree. Nikolai 
Netkovitch had also joined them. 

" You tell me that we must prepare for the struggle," 
said Kandoff, continuing the discussion, " because its 
object is freedom. But what is this freedom ? We are to 
have a prince — that is to say, a petty Sultan — of our own ; 
we're to be oppressed by officials ; monks and priests are 
to fatten on our toil ; and the army will sap the very life- 
springs of the nation. Is this your freedom ? I would not 
sacrifice a drop of blood from my little finger for it." 

"But listen to me, Mr. Kandoff," answered Netkovitch. 

*' No one respects your principles more than I do, but they 

have no place here. What we want is pohtical freedom — 

that is, to be masters of our own land and our own destinies .' ' 

Kandoff shook his head in dissent. 

*' Well, then, explain this to me. You will appoint new 
masters in place of the old ; you don't want the Sheikh-ul- 
Islam, but you will set up another, whom you call the 
Exarch — that is to say, you replace one tyrant by another. 
You impose rulers on the nation, and annihilate every idea 
of equahty ; you consecrate the right of the strong to 
despoil the poor, of capital to oppress labour. Give to your 
contest a more humanitarian, a more modem object ; make 
it a struggle not only against the Turkish yoke, but also for 
the triumph of modem principles — that is, the destruction 
of those foolish distinctions, consecrated by the prejudices of 
centuries, such as the throne, rehgion, the right of property 
and of the stronger, of which human brutality has consti- 
tuted unassailable principles. Read Herzen, Bakounin, 
Lassalle. Leave this narrow, animal patriotism, and raise 
the standard of rational modem humanity and sober science. 
Then I am mth you." 

" The ideas you express," answered Ognianoff sharply, 
" show your erudition, it is true, but prove only too clearly 



T4 UNDER THE YOKE 

how ignorant you are of the Bulgarian question. Under 
the standard you speak of you would find yourself alone — 
the nation would not understand it. You must bear in 
mind, Mr. Kandoff, that through the nation we can attain 
only one rational and possible object — that is, the destruc- 
tion of the Turkish rule. We see before us only one enemy 
— the Turk ; and it is against that enemy that we will rise. 
As for the principles of Socialism to which you have treated 
us, we cannot stomach them. Bulgarian common sense 
rejects them, and they will never find a field in Bulgaria, 
either now or at any other time. Your high-sounding 
principles and standards of ' modem thinking humanity and 
the sober science of reason ' only serve to confuse the 
subject. What we have to do is to protect our homes, our 
honour, our lives from the lowest zaptie who may choose 
to assail them. Before solving general problems of social 
science — or, more correctly, obscure theories — we must 
free ourselves from our chains. Those writers whose teach- 
ings you have mastered neither know nor care about us and 
our sufferings. We can rely only upon the nation, in which 
we cannot but include the Chorbaji class and the clergy : 
they represent forces which we must make use of. Abolish 
the zaptie, and the nation attains its ideal. You may have 
another ideal, but it is not that of the nation." 

Just then the music stopped and the noise ceased. The 
blind boy was playing on his flute, from which issued 
sounds of astonishing sweetness. 

" Come here, you fellows. What are you philosophising 
about there ? " cried some to the three disputants. 

These, however, did not even turn round ; the discussion 
continued to rage hotly. 

Blind Kolcho continued to play for some time amid 
solemn silence, the whole party, though some were more or 
less excited by their potations, enjoying the soothing 
melody of his flute. Suddenly he stopped and said ; 

" What do you think I can see ? " 

There was a general laugh. 

" Will you guess ? " asked Kolcho. 

" What will you give us if we guess right ? " asked 
some. 

" My astronomical telescope." 

" Where is it ? " 

" In the moon." 



THE ROAD TO SILISTRIA 75 

" You can see the rosy cheeks of Todorich's daughter 
Milka," said Pope Dimcho. 

" Not I ! I'd rather kiss them than see them — it's more 
in my line." 

" Well, you can see Mr. Fratio," said Popoff, for Fratio 
was standing in front of the blind man and waving his arms 
about. 

" How can one see the wind ? " 

" The sun, then ! " 

" No, you're wrong again — the sun and I fell out long ago, 
and I've sworn I'll never look at him as long as I live." 

" Well, you see the night," said the doctor. 

" No, no ; what I see is the glass of wine you're going to 
give me — confound it, you've forgotten me." 

At once a number of glasses were poured out and brought 
to him. 

" Your health, everybody," he said, and emptied his 
glass. 

" But what am I to have, as you couldn't guess ? " 

" The other glasses we poured out for you." 

" How many of them are there ? " 

" Seven — the same number as the deadly sins." 

" Well, I'd rather have the forty holy martyrs, if I were in 
his place," remarked Pope Dimcho. 

" Well said— here's luck ! " 

" Vive la Bulgarie, vive la Republique des Balkans," 
cried Fratio in French. 

Dusk, however, broke up the revels, and a move was 
made towards the town. 

" Boys, don't forget the rehearsal at the school to- 
morrow," cried Ognianoflf. 

" What are you going to act ? " asked the student. 

" ' Genevieve.' " 

" Why did you choose that old piece ? " 

" For two reasons — first because it's not of a seditious 
character — the Chorbajis insisted on that ; and, secondly, 
because every one has read it and wants it. We had to con- 
sult their tastes ; what we want is large takings ; we have 
to buy newspapers and books for our reading room, as well 
as ' other things.' " 

The band, merry and boisterous, made for the to^n, and 
was soon lost among the gardens which the evening twilight 
was already enveloping. In a quarter of an hour they 



76 UNDER THE YOKE 

made their victorious entry in the already dark streets of the 
town, lustily singing revolutionary songs. This seditious 
demonstration brought the women and children in crowds 
to their thresholds. 

Ognianoff, however, was not among them. While yet 
in the fields a little boy had brought him hurriedly some 
message, and he had left his companions without being 
noticed. 

CHAPTER XIV : AN UNFORESEEN MEETING 
Ognianoff struck towards the north, and made his way in 
the direction of the ridge of the Balkans. It was already 
dark. The sun h^^d set peacefully and majestically. Its 
last rays that gilded the lofty summits of the Stara Planina 
were vanishing. Only a few clouds, with golden fringes to 
the westward, still smiled at the sun from their height in the 
pure, ethereal atmosphere. The valley was now quite 
wrapped in gloom. The white torrent-beds in the west 
were plunged in the dim shade which was stealing, 
darker and darker, over the monastery meadows, the rocks, 
and the walnuts, willows, and pear trees, whose outlines 
were gradually becoming faint and blurred. Not a single 
flutter or chirp from that world of birds that all day long 
had made the valley gay — they were silent in their nests, 
securely perched on the branches or hidden under the eaves 
of the monastery. Jointly with the darkness reigned the 
weird and melancholy quiet of the night ; the only sound 
that broke the utter solitude was the roar of the mountain 
torrents. Now and again the wind would carry the distant 
tinklings of some belated herd scampering home to the 
town. Soon the moonlight shone forth and enhanced the 
charm of that idyllic hour. A golden flood poured over 
plain and trees, which cast marvellous shadows on the 
ground. The dry water-courses showed out more clearly 
against the dark background of the old ruins ; the new 
cupola towered white and tall above the gables and poplars 
of the monastery, and behind it, high in the heavens, soared 
the summits of the Stara Planina till they were lost in the 
dark blue depths above. 

Ognianoff passed behind the monastery and followed up 
the mill-stream, which issued from beneath a dark copse of 
thick-branching walnuts ; he passed under this rustling 



AN UNFORESEEN MEETING 77 

roof, crossed the stream on the huge blocks of stone that 
sprawled across its course, and soon appeared on the ridge 
of the Balkan whence the stream flowed. 

There the scene changed ; it became wilder and more 
majestic. On either side of the stream the rocks rose steep 
and bare, broken here and again by the torrents, and above 
the jagged crags peered down in fantastic shapes. The 
moonlight reached only the topmost peaks of the rocks : all 
the rest was plunged in gloom. Here the noise of the water- 
falls became deaiening, and reverberated with the echoes 
of the wall of rock on either side. The wind sighed and 
sobbed out its autumnal plaint through the bushes : the 
valley became gradually wilder and more desolate. 

Ognianoff pushed his way perilously along the storm- 
worn path, which was indeed only used by day, being too 
treacherous to venture along by night. He remembered 
that some six months before he had passed there when he 
had come do^vn from the mountain and made his entry over 
the wall into Marko's j^ard. Soon the path was quite 
hidden from view in the increasing darkness. He could 
scarcely pick his footing through the sharp-pointed rocks 
that strewed the way before him. Had any one seen him 
at that moment and in that wild place, now crawling, now 
leaping from crag to crag, he would have taken him for a 
wild beast rather than a human being. Suddenly a new 
sound struck his ear : it was the rumbling of the mill. He 
advanced bolder and more confidently towards it. Soon 
in the dark depths of the valley he discerned the roof of 
Father Stoyan's mill, and in a moment he had reached it. 

Father Stoyan met him outside the door. 

" What is it ? " asked Ognianoff hurriedly and anxiously. 

" Nothing, thank Gk)d ! " 

This answer relieved Ognianoff at once. He had begun 
to fear that something had been found out concerning the 
adventure with the two Turks, and that this was the reason 
why old Stoyan had sent for him. 

" What did you want me f or ? " asked Boicho again. 

" Nothing. Forgive me, Master, for having given you 
the trouble of coming here, but as it was " 

And old Stoyan, lowering his voice, added : 

" I'd have sent for our Vikenti, only he's down with fever 
just now ; and as our Christo told me he'd seen you near 
the monastery, thinks I, ' Let's send for the Master, 



78 UNDER THE YOKE 

that'll be better still.' But you'll forgive me, won't you, 
Master ? " 

Boicho began to grow impatient. 

" Well, but what is it ? " 

" What, didn't you ask the boy ? " 

"No." 

" Well, that's odd. Bother the boy ! I told him that if 
you asked him he was to whisper it in your ear. This is 
what's happened, master " — and he lowered his voice still 
more — " a friend's come." 

" What friend ? " 

" Why, one of us." 

" One of us ? " 

" Why, ves, a Nationalist." 

" Who is he ? " 

" I don't know. He came down from the mountain last 
night, and made straight for me. He frightened me at first; 
I thought he Avas a brigand. You'll see what a state he's in ; 
his legs are like broomsticks. But he turned oat all right." 

" Did he say who he was or where he was coming from ? " 
asked Ognianoff, deeply interested. 

" I asked him, but all he answered was that he was flying 
from the Turks and had come down the mountain." 

" Didn't he ask for anything ? " 

" Yes ; he asked for a piece of bread — hadn't eaten for 
four days, he said. And he asked me to send for some good 
friend — some Nationalist — to come and have a talk with 
him. First, I thought of the deacon, but this confounded 
fever of his hasn't left him ; so then I sent for you." 

" Quite right, Father S toy an." 

" Forgive me. Master, for the trouble I've given you." 

*' Not I ; I'm glad of it. Where's your guest ? " 

" I've got him carefully stowed away. Come with me." 
And Father S toy an led him into the mill. 

It was in complete darkness. 

He lighted a petroleum lamp, guided Boicho between the 
wall and the mill-stones, past two corn-bins, and stopped 
before a little door, over which were still hanging great 
cobwebs half torn away, showing it had long been kept 
closed. 

" W^hat, is he in there ? " 

" Rather ! The cat doesn't st^al the milk that's put 
away— isn't that so, Master ? " 



AN UNFORESEEN MEETING 79 

And Father Stoyan knocked at the door, and called out : 

" Now, sir, come out, if you please." 

The door opened, and a young man appeared, glancing 
cautiously around him. He was short and weakly in 
appearance, with a very diminutive face, long unshaven : 
his countenance wore a bright, eager look, and his move- 
ments were lithe and active ; but what struck OgnianofI 
was his utter weakness and emaciation. He was dressed in 
the coarse white clothes usually worn by Macedonian 
peasants, and trimmed with the traditional braiding, knobs, 
and tassels on the back, breast, and knees, but completely 
worn out, so that the naked sMn showed through many a 
rent. 

At the first glance both he and OgnianofE exclaimed with 
surprise : 

" Mourathski ! " 

" KraUch ! " 

And they rushed into each other's arms and embraced 
warmly. 

" What ? You ? Where have you come from ? " asked 
Ognianoff, who recognised in Mouratliski a comrade from 
the band of insurgents to which he had belonged. 

" Never mind me. Where have you been all this time ? 
Is it really you, Kralich ? " 

Kralich turned back with a start, pointed to the mill, and 
addressed Stoyan, \^'ho stood motionless in front of them 
holding the lamp : 

" Father Stoyan, put out the light and shut the door — or 
rather never mind — we'll go out. There's too much noise 
here to talk." 

Father Stoyan led the way with the lamp, and shut the 
door behind them, saying : 

" There, you have a good talk together. I'm going to 
bed. When you feel sleepy come in and lie down." 

The valley was completely obscure, but the opposite side 
of the rocks was brightly lit up by the moon. Ognianoff 
and his companion went into the darkest part of the valley, 
and seated themselves on a broad ledge of rock, by the side 
of which the torrent foamed past. 

" Let's shake hands again, brother," said Ognianoff, 
feelingly. 

" Why, KraUch, whatever brought you here ? I last 
heard of you in the paradise of Diarbekir." 



80 UNDER THE YOKE 

" And you, Dobri ? Haven't you gone to the gallows 
yet ? " asked Boicho in jest. 

They were very old and intimate acquaintances. A com- 
mon fate and common sufferings will unite the most diver- 
gent of characters : how much more then two such as 
Boicho and Mouratliski, who were brothers in arms and 
in ideas. 

"Well, tell us all about it," added Mouratliski, " your 
story dates further back, so you take precedence. When 
did you come back from Diarbekir ? " 

" You mean, when did I escape ? " 

*' What ? did you escape ? " 

*' Yes, last May." 

" And you managed to get here unmolested ? What 
road did you take ? " 

" I went on foot from Diarbekir to Russian Armenia : 
from there through the Caucasus to Odessa, thanks to the 
assistance of the Russians. At Odessa, I got a steamer 
to Varna, and from there over the mountains to the 
shepherd's huts near Troyan, then over the Stara Planina 
to Bela Cherkva." 

" But what made you pick out Bela Cherkva ? " 

" I was afraid to go anywhere where I didn't know any 
one ; on the other hand, I fought shy of former friends, not 
knowing what might be their views now. I remembered 
that my father's best friend, a very worthy man, lived at 
Bela Cherkva : no one else could possible know me there ; 
indeed, he wouldn't have known me if I hadn't told him 
who I was." 

" Well, I recognised you at once. So you stayed on ? " 

" Yes, that friend of my father's got me a situation as a 
schoolmaster, and till now, thank God, everything has gone 
well." 

" So now you've become a schoolmaster, Kralich ? " 

" Ostensibly — a schoolmaster ; but, in reality, the same 
old trade." 

" What— preaching ? " 

" Yes, revolution." 

" Well, how are you getting on ? We made a mess of 
our business." 

" For the present things are going well. The people's 
minds are much excited, the soil is volcanic : Bela Cherkva 
was one of Levski's nests." 



AN UNFORESEEN MEETING 81 

" And what's your plan ? " 

" As yet we haven't any. We're preparing the rebelHon 
theoretically, so to speak, and waiting for something to 
turn up. But the movement grows stronger every day, not 
only here but round about, and we shall have a rebellion 
sooner or later." 

" Bravo, Kralich ! Well done ! You're a marvellous 
fellow." 

" Come, let me hear about your trials, now." 

*' Oh, you know all about that business. We made 
such a mess of it at Stara Zagora that we daren't look any 
one in the face." 

" No, no ; begin from the beginning, from where our 
band was routed and we all separated. Remember, I've 
had eight years of Diarbekir, and I've heard nothing of you 
or any of my friends all the time." 

Mouratliski stretched himself out at full length on the 
rock, placed his hands under his head, and in that position 
of repose told his story in detail. He had taken part in the 
Sofia conspiracy under Dimitr Obshti,* and in the attack on 
the Orkhanie mail. He had been betrayed, arrested, and 
flung into prison, and had only by some miracle escaped 
the gallows or Diarbekir. Later he had gone to Roumania, 
where he had wandered for a year and a half, struggling 
against famine and misery ; from thence he had returned to 
Bulgaria on a mission, to fight against the terrors and perils 
which encompass an agitator. That spring he had appeared 
at Stara Zagora, and had laboured with enthusiasm to 
prepare the insurrection.! After the lamentable failure of 
the movement, during which he had been slightly wounded 
by the Turks at the short engagement at Elkhovo, he had 
made for the Stara Planina, pursued by the Turkish patrols 
and even by the Bulgarian shepherds to whom he had 
applied for a piece of bread or a change of clothes. 

For ten days he had wandered over the Balkan, exposed 
to a thousand dangers and sufferings. His terrible hunger 
had forced him to come down from the mountains and beg, 
revolver in hand, for a piece of bread from the first living 
man he should meet. Fortunately, he had come upon 

* In 1873. 

t This abortive movement (the chief leader of which was M. Stam- 
boloff, later the Bulgarian Prime Minister) broke out on the 16th (28th) 
September 1875, and was at once suppressed by the Turks. 



82 UNDER THE YOKE 

Father Stoyan. He related with gratitude how kindly the 
miller had received him ; he was, he said, the first man who 
had treated him with humanity since he had been wandering 
on the Stara Planina. 

Mouratliski stopped. The river rippled past their feet. 
Around all was still. The moonlit rocks opposite them 
were soundless. Only on the peaks of the hills the night 
breeze rustled among the wild lilac and other low shrubs. 

Ognianoff had followed eagerly Mouratliski's recital of his 
adventures and dangers. He seemed himself to be passing 
through all those emotions and sufferings, to feel the same 
bitter disenchantment and shame at the baseness and 
cowardice of the people, by which the repression of a 
revolution is usually followed. Now, with a brother's 
interest, he was pondering how to assist Mouratliski. 

" Well, what do you think of doing now ? " asked Boicho. 

" I shall go back to Roumania, if you can only get me 
clothes and a passport." 

Ognianoff became thoughtful. 

" What are you going to do there ? " 

" I shall bide my time, and when the revolution breaks 
out I shall be there — I can't help it — what's born in the 
flesh, you know." 

" That's no good ; you're not fit to travel till you've 
recovered a little. Stay here ! " 

" What, and hide ? No, I can't do that. I don't want a 
voluntary imprisonment." 

" Yes, but you won't want to hide," cried Ognianoff, after 
half a minute's reflection. 

*' Why not ? " 

*' You'll go about the town as freely as I do, and we shall 
work together." 

*' With all my heart. But are you mad, Ej?alich ? I 
should be caught the very first day. They're looking for 
me behind every tree." 

" They're looking for insurgents and Bulgarians." 

*' Well, and what do you think I am ? " he said laugh- 
ingly. 

" You will be a respectable and peaceful photographer, 
and, what's more, an Austrian." 

" I don't understand you." 

Ognianoff smiled and continued, trying to see Mourat- 
liski's face in the dark ; 



AN UNFORESEEN MEETING 88 

" Your hair and beard are as long as a dervish's. To- 
morrow night I shall take you to my rooms, and we'll get 
rid of this thatch. We'll leave you only your whiskers. 
You won't mind ? " 

" All right ; what next ? " 
" Next, we shall shave off your moustache." 
'* Well, I suppose that must go too," said Mouratliski, 
smiling. 

" After that, we'll Europeanise you a little. A friend of 
mine, who arrived yesterday from Roumania, will give us 
an old velvet suit. I've got a railway guard's cap with a 
gold band ; and then ' Goot morgen, main Kherr.' " 

" Very well. I shall become an Austrian ; but how am 
I going to make out that I'm a photographer ? " 

" You'll have a photographic apparatus. Three years 
ago the photographer Christoff lived at Bela Cherkva as an 
agitator. When he went away he left behind his apparatus, 
which was out of order, with a very good friend of mine, 
called Netkovitch. We'll have the camera mended as best 
we may, and buy you all the plates, acids, and cards you 
want, and then you can start ofE photographing our worthy 
townspeople." 

" But I've never even dreamt about photography." 
" Oh, you'll learn it fast enough. You'll twist their eyes, 
knock off their noses, distort their mouths, and mutilate 
their faces a little at first, but you'll soon be a master in the 
art." 

" Well, you shall be my first victim." 
" All right." 

" And I'm not to talk Bulgarian ? " 
"Not a word, you're to avoid it carefully. All that 
you'll talk is German or Bohemian. Czech is very similar 
to our language, and people will understand one word in 
ten ; then as time goes by you may begin with a little 
broken Bulgarian. I suppose you haven't forgotten your 
Czech ? " 

" I was only in Pisek for a year, after your time, 
4)ut I remember enough to ask for bread, water, and so 
forth." 

" So much the better, because the passport I have is 
made out in Czech for a certain Yaroslav Brzobegounek." 
" What ? Yaroslav Brzobegounek ? " 
" Yes, a glorious Czech name, and not unfitting for you ; 



84 UNDER THE YOKE 

you're a real Brzobegounek ;* haven't you gone over half 
the Balkan Peninsula on foot ? So, then, I)obri Mourat- 
liski, from to-morrow you will be Pan Yaroslav Brzobe- 
gounek, an Austrian Czech, bom with a photographic 
apparatus on his back ! " 

And Ognianoff took off his hat with meek solemnity. 

" Good morning, Pan Yaroslav, will you take my photo- 
graph ? " he asked, in Czech. 

" With pleasure, Pan Yane," answered Mouratliski, in the 
same language. 

" Stop, I'm no longer Ivan Kralich ; here I'm knowTi as 
Boicho Ognianoff, don't forget." 

" Well, you have the advantage of me, you haven't to get 
into a completely foreign skin — ah, Pan Yane, Pan Yane." 

" Pan Boicho, didn't I tell you," cried Ognianoff, " you're 
quite likely to betray me through your carelessness. You 
must remember your part well. Pan Yaroslav." 

Half an hour later they went back to the mill,''locked the 
door carefully, and stretched themselves out to sleep on 
the sacks of grain, to the deafenii^g and monotonous sound 
of the mill. 



CHAPTER XV : A VOICE FROM THE GRAVE 

In the morning Ognianoff started for the town. He crossed 
the ridge of the Balkan and emerged at the monastery. In 
the field by the monastery, under the great walnut-trees, the 
Higoumen was paciug up and down, bareheaded. He was 
enjoying the morning beauty of that romantic spot, and was 
breathing in deep draughts of the sweet health-giving 
mountain air. The autumnal nature had a new charm in 
the russet leaves of the trees, the yellow, velvety summits of 
the Balkan, and the general tokens of melancholy and decay. 

Ogniauoff and the higoumen greeted one another. 

" These are charming spots, father," said Ognianoff ; 
" you're lucky in being able to live in the midst of Nature, 
and to enjoy, peacefully, her divine charms. If I ever feel a 
vocation to take up your calling it will be out of love for 
Nature and her eternal beauty." 

" Take care, Ognianoff ; you would be coming down in 
the world if you became a mon,k after being an, apostle. 
No, no ; stay as you are. Besides, I wouldn't have you in 
* I.e., Swift in flight. 



A VOICE FROM THE GRAVE 85 

my monastery ; you'd pervert even Father Yerote, you're 
such a godless atheist," said the higoumen in jest. 

" What kind of an old boy is he ? " asked Boicho 
irreverently. 

" A very respected and honourable brother, whose only 
failing is that he's too fond of his money ; I think he plants 
it in the ground so that it may grow. Whenever we ask him 
for any, for common expenses, he grumbles so much that 
we've made a proverb out of him — he grumbles like Father 
Yerote, we say. But where are you coming from so early?" 

" I spent the night at Father Stoyan's mill." 

" Why ? did you have a scare ? " and the higoumen 
looked at him with some surprise. 

" No, no — but a friend has turned up." 

Upon which Ognianoff related to him briefly his meeting 
with Mouratliski. 

" Why ever didn't you bring him to the monastery ? " 
said the higoumen, reproachfully. " You must have slept 
on the sacks of com ! " 

" We ' Koumitajis ' * can put up with a good deal." 

" Well — well — God bless you. What did you say you 
had christened him ? " 

" Yaroslav Brzobegounek." 

Father Natanail laughed. 

" You apostles are a funny lot ; but take care your 
waterpot isn't upset for the third time." 

" Never you fear ; there's a God for us Koumitajis as 
well as for brigands," said Boicho, smiling significantly. 
" Why, you've brought your rifle with you," noticing Father 
Natanail's rifle leaning against a willow- tree. 

" Yes ; I thought I'd try it this morning. It's a long 
time since I had it in my hand. You fellows have excited 
the whole population, and we have music now every day in 
front of the monastery — nothing but shooting : enough 
noise to stir up the dead, let alone an old sinner like me." 

" Well, it's a good thing to try your hand again, Father 
Higoumen." 

As they walked on the two came to the mill of the 
terrible night. The mere sight of it brought deep furrows 
to Ognianoff's brow. 

* All insurgents or suspected insurgents were supposed by the Turks 
to be connected with the Revolutionary Committees at Bucharest or 
Belgrade, and were hence called " Koumitajis " or Committee-men-, 



86 UNDER THE YOKE 

The mill was now closed. Stoyan the miller had left it 
and taken another, situate, as we have already seen, on the 
monastery stream. 

The mill, deserted and covered with moss, resembled a 
grave in that beautiful spot. 

At that moment Mouncho had stealthily approached ; he 
stopped and fixed his eyes on Ognianoff. A strange smile 
played over his idiot's countenance. In that look, bereft 
of reason, could be read the mingled affection, fear, and 
surprise which Boicho had awakened in his mind. Years 
before he had cursed Mohammad before an on-bashi, who 
had beaten him till he lay senseless on the ground. From 
that time his obscured conscience had retained only one 
feeling, one thought — a terrible, demoniacal hatred of the 
Turks. He happened to witness the slaughter of the two 
ruffians in the mill and their burial afterwards, and had 
conceived an unbounded admiration and reverence for 
Ognianoff. This feeling amounted almost to worship. He 
called him the Russian for some inexpUcable reason. The 
first night he had been terribly scared by confronting him 
on the verandah, but he had since become accustomed to 
Ognianofi's frequent visits to the monastery. He seemed 
fascinated by him — could not take his eyes off him, and 
regarded him as his protector. Whenever the servants 
teased him he would threaten them with the Russian. " I 
shall tell the Russian to kill you too," drawing his fingers 
across his throat. But nobody understood what he meant 
by these words, fortunately, for he would repeat them in the 
town when he went there. The higoumen and Boicho paid 
no heed to Mouncho, who continued shaking his head and 
smiling amiably. 

" Look ! there's the on-bashi coming this way," said the 
higoumen. 

In truth, the on-bashi was approaching with his gun on 
his shoulder and a knapsack slung round his back. He 
was going out shooting. 

The on-bashi was about thirty-five years of age, with a 
yellow, bloated face, a high projecting forehead, small grey 
eyes, and an inert, sleepy look. He was evidently an 
opium-eater. After a few words of greeting and a little 
talk on the prospects of sport that year, the on-bashi took 
the higoumen's rifle, examined it carefully, as every sports- 
man does, and said : 



A VOICE FROM THE GRAVE 87 

" That's a good rifle, your worship — ^what are you going 
to fire at ? " 

" Well, I was just thinking, Sherif Aga. I haven't had it 
in my hand for a year, and I thought I'd have a shot this 
morning." 

" What's to be the mark ? " asked the on-bashi, eagerly 
taking his Martini from his shoulder and evidently desirous 
of showing his skill. 

" Well, that great thistle on the bank, near the clay-pit 
there," said the higoumen. 

The on-bashi looked surprised. 

" That's a very long way off," he said : however, he 
walked to a rock in the field, steadied his rifle on it, aimed 
for about ten seconds, and fired. The bullet struck some 
paces distant from the mark. 

Sherif Aga reddened and showed some uneasiness. 

" Let's have another shot," he said, again leaning against 
the stone and aiming for nearly a minute. When the gun 
went off he rose and ran towards the bank, but the thistle 
was still towering above it. 

" Confound the thing," he said angrily, " it's no good 
aiming at a mark so far off. You fire now, Higoumen 
Effendi, only I warn you that you're wasting your cartridge. 
However, try and hit the thistle ! " he added ironically. 

The higoumen raised his gun to his shoulder, ran his eye 
along the barrel, and fired. 

The weed had disappeared. 

" The good old gun hasn't played me false," said the 
higoumen. 

" It's a fluke," cried the on-bashi, " try again." 

The higoumen now aimed at the next thistle and fired. 
The bullet again struck the mark. The on-bashi grew pale 
with rage : 

" Your eye's wonderfully true, Higoumen Effendi, but I'd 
lay a wager it's not a year since you fired that rifle. Well, 
you might give a few lessons to these youngsters of yours 
who're here firing all day long." Then he added maficiously, 
" They seem very excited about something. But in the end 
they'll get a devilish good hiding — mark my words." And 
the on-bashi's look became fiercer and more ominous, as he 
turned to Ognianoff. 

All this time Mouncho had stood at a respectful distance, 
but his features were distorted out of all shape with abject 



88 UNDER THE YOKE 

terror accompanied at the same time by bestial hatred. 
He now cast a threatening look at the on-bashi, gnashing 
his teeth and clenching his fists like a man about to attack 
some one. The on-bashi mechanically turned towards him 
and glanced at him contemptuously. The idiot thereupon 
became still more fierce of aspect, and cried, foaming with 
rage : 

" The Russian'll kill you, too ! " cursing him and his 
mother. The on-bashi understood a little Bulgarian, but 
could make nothing of Mouncho's gibberish. 

" What's the matter with the fool ? " he asked of the 
higoumen. 

" He means no harm, poor fellow ! " 

" What's Mouncho so excited about now when he's here ? 
In town he's always quiet enough." 

" WTiy, every cock grows on his own dunghill ! " 

Just then a huge greyhound, Avith a leather collar round 
its neck, from which hung the fragments of a leash, ran 
towards them across the field. 

They all turned to look at the dog. 

" The dog's run away from somewhere," said the 
higoumen. " There must be some sportsmen near." 

Ognianoff trembled involuntarily. 

The hound had run to the mill and sniffed at the door, 
after which it wandered round the house, whining piteously. 

" Why, that's poor Yemeksiz Pehli van's dog ! " cried the 
on-bashi. 

The dog, which Ognianoff recognised only too well, was 
wandering round and round the mill, sniffing suspiciously, 
and every now and then scratching with its paws. Finally, 
it raised its head in the air and began to howl piteously. 
The sound struck on Ognianoff 's ear like a knell. He 
glanced anxiously at the higoumen. The on-bashi watched 
the scene with surprise, and his face was expressive of doubt 
and suspicion. 

Suddenly the dog rushed at Ognianoff. He recoiled, 
growing deadly pale. The dog made a wild spring at him, 
growling desperately. 

He drew his knife mechanically to defend himself against 
the infuriated animal, which the higoumen was unsuccess- 
fully trying to frighten away. 

The on-bashi watched the scene in silence, casting 
suspicious and evil glances at Ognianoff and his glittering 



A VOICE FROM THE GRAVE 89 

knife. But seeing that Ognianoff would perhaps in seK- 
defence wound the dog, he interposed and drove it away. 
Then he turned to Ognianoff, w^ho was red and heated by 
his efforts and anxiety. 

" That's odd ! How comes this dog to be so furious 
against you ? " 

" I think I must have hit it with a stone once," replied 
Ognianoff with assumed unconcern. 

The on-bashi looked at him incredulously and inquisi- 
tively. He was evidently not satisfied with the reply. An 
undefined suspicion formed in his mind. But he deter- 
mined to look into the matter, and, in order to show that he 
thought Ognianoff's answer quite satisfactory, added : 
" That breed of dog is very vindictive." He saluted the 
higoumen and proceeded on his way, soon disappearing in 
the Balkan ridge. 

The greyhound was already beyond the field on its way to 
rejoin its new master. 

" Didn't you kill the brute ? " asked the higoumen. 

" I threw it half dead into the stream to drown, but here 
it is alive again, w^orse luck," muttered Ognianoff, angrily. 
" Old Stoyan was quite right in saying we ought to have 
buried it with the other two dogs. Just my luck for that 
lout of a Sherif to come to this very spot, too. Trouble 
comes when you least expect it." 

" Are you sure you killed them thoroughly, and that they 
won't rise again like the dog ? " asked the higoumen 
severely. " When a man undertakes a business of this kind 
he ought to carry it out to the bitter end, and leave nothing 
undone. You're a novice at the trade as yet, Boicho. 
However, there's no cause for dismay. The rumour we 
spread at the time calmed people down. But I shall keep 
my eyes open." 

Meanwhile Ognianoff was carefully inspecting the place 
where the two Turks were buried. To his surprise he saw 
that a considerable heap of stones was now on it. Neither 
he nor the miller Stoyan had put the stones there. He 
expressed his astonishment to the higoumen, who tried to 
calm him by suggesting that they had probably been put 
there by chance. They did not know that Mouncho went 
there every day, stone in hand, to fling at the grave of the 
Turks, so much so that quite a heap had by this time been 
raised there. 



90 UNDER THE YOKE 

Ognianoff stretched out his hand. " Where are you 
going ? " 

" Good-bye, I'm in a hurry ; I've a lot to do for these 
theatricals — that infernal dog has driven my part clean out 
of my head." 

" What part are you taking ? " 

" The Count." 

" The Count — and what are you Count of, I should like 
to know ? " asked the higoumen in jest. 

" The Castle of Diarbekir — which I'm ready to make a 
present of to any one who likes." 

And Ognianoff went on his way. - 

CHAPTER XVI : THE THEATRICALS 

The drama " Suffering Genevieve," which was to be given 
that evening at the boys' school, is probably unknown to 
the youth of the present generation. But thirty years ago 
it had acquired the most extensive popularity and enchanted 
the whole population of the day ; its only rivals in the 
public favour were " Alexandra," " Berthold the Wily," and 
" Michaela." The plot is, in a few words, as follows : A 
certain German count, Siegfried, goes to the wars against 
the Moors in Spain, and leaves his wife, the youthful 
Countess Genevieve, inconsolable in her grief. No sooner 
has he gone than his steward, Golos, appears before the 
Countess with insulting proposals, which she rejects with 
scorn. The vindictive Golos then slays her faithful attend- 
ant, Drako, and throws her into a dungeon : at the same 
time he informs the Count that he has surprised the Countess 
in a guilty intrigue with Drako. The Count's anger knows 
no bounds : he sends orders to put his faithless spouse to 
death. But the ruffians whom Golos has charged with this 
duty take pity on the Countess and leave her to her fate, 
with her child, in a mountain cave, falsely assuring Golos 
that his orders have been carried out. Seven years elapse. 
The Count returns from the wars, heart-broken : in his 
castle he finds a letter left for him by Genevieve, establish- 
ing clearly her innocence : he can but weep over her un- 
timely death. Golos is loaded with chains, and loses his 
reason under the stings of conscience. Soon the Count 
proceeds to the chase for recreation, and by chance comes 
upon the Countess in her cave, together with her child and 



THE THEATRICALS 91 

a doe who has nourished them with her milk. All become 
reconciled and return joyfully to the castle. This naive 
and moving conception has at various times brought tears 
to the cheeks of every old woman and young bride in 
Bulgaria. At the time the scene of this story is laid, every 
one knew the plot, and many had the whole play by heart. 

This is why the forthcoming representation had caused 
such excitement among the townspeople. It was impa- 
tiently awaited as a great event, which would be a pleasant 
change in the monotonous life of Bela Cherkva. Every- 
body was looking forward to it. The richer housewives had 
got out their best finery, the poorer had sold their yarn 
in the market and at once invested the proceeds in tickets, 
instead of making their usual purchases of salt or soap. 
Nothing but the theatricals was talked of at family and 
social gatherings. Old women asked each other at church, 
" Ghena, are you going to ' Genevieve ' to-night ? " and pre- 
pared to weep over the long-suffering Countess. At home 
the conversation ran on the names of the actors who had 
taken the various parts — universal satisfaction was ex- 
pressed when Ognianoff was cast for the Count. The wily 
Golos, who eventually goes mad, was to be played by Fratio, 
who was fond of emotional parts (in order to increase the 
effect Fratio had let his hair grow for a month). Ilia the 
Inquisitive was the servant, Drako, and rehearsed twenty 
times a day how he should fall when Golos pierces him with 
his sword. He was also to bark later on in the piece as the 
Count's dog : and practised this part with equal assiduity. 
For Genevieve Deacon Vikenti had at first been suggested, 
on account of his good looks and long hair ; but it was 
thought unsuitable for a person in holy orders to take part 
in the piece, and the role was given to another, together with 
a pot of white pomatum to cover his moustache. The 
secondary parts were also distributed. 

A greater difficulty was presented by the decorations, 
which had to be provided as economically as possible. The 
only outlay was for a curtain : for this a piece of red stuff 
was purchased, and to make it look more artistic a house- 
painter from Debra was commissioned to paint a lyre on 
it : he, however, produced something which looked more 
like a haymaker's fork than anything else. For the decora- 
tions of the Count's castle all the best furniture in the town 
was laid under contribution. Hajji Ghiouro supplied his 



92 UNDER THE YOKE 

lace curtains for the windows ; Karaghieuz Oghlou lent two 
Persian rugs ; JMicho Beyzade his handsome glass vases ; 
Micho SaranofP a large carpet ; Nikola Netkovitch prints of 
the Franco- Prussian war ; Bencho Oghlou a worn-out old 
sofa — the only one in the place ; Marko Ivanoff a large 
mirror and the picture of the " Martyrs " ; the convent lent 
its embroidered cushions ; the school a map of Australia and 
the globe ; the church its small chandelier, which sufficed 
to illuminate the stage, spectators and all. Even the prison 
of the Konak supplied the fetters for Golos. As for the 
costumes, they were the same that had been worn three 
years before when " Princess Raina " had been given. Thus 
the Count wore Svatoslav's clothes, and Genevieve Raina's. 
Golos added a few extra ornaments, such as epaulets and 
high patent leather boots. Gancho Popoff, who acted 
Huns (one of the two ruffians), carried the long knife he had 
prepared against the rebellion. Drako proudly donned 
Mikhalaki Alafranga's tall silk hat, somewhat battered 
though it was. In vain Bo'icho protested against this as an 
anachronism. Most of the actors insisted that the scene 
would be more effective, and it was allowed to pass in spite 
of his objections. 

The theatre began to fill at sunset. The front rows were 
reserved for the notabilities, including the Bey, who had 
been specially invited. At his side sat Damiancho Grigoroff, 
who had been put there to amuse him. The general public 
filled the rest of the room, and soon began to clamour 
eagerly for the curtain to rise. The noisiest of all was 
Mother Ghinka, who knew the play by heart, and was 
telling her neighbours right and left all about it, and what 
were the first words the Count had to say. Hajji Simeon, 
in the next row, was explaining how much larger the 
Bucharest theatre was, and what was the meaning of the 
pitchfork on the curtain. The orchestra consisted of the 
local gipsy musicians, who played chiefly the Austrian 
National Anthem, doubtless in honour of the German 
Countess. 

At last the solemn moment arrived. The Austrian hymn 
ceased, and the curtain rose amid murmurs of admiration. 
The first to appear was the Count. Perfect silence ensued. 
One would have thought the theatre was empty. The Count 
"began to speak, and Mother Ghinka prompted him from in 
front. Whenever the Count left out or altered a word, she 



THE THEATRICALS 93 

cried, " That's wrong ! " A trumpet sounds, and the envoys 
of Charlemagne enter and summon him to the Moorish wars. 
The Count takes an affectionate farewell of Genevieve, who 
falls fainting, and goes out. When she recovers her con- 
sciousness and finds the Count gone, she weeps. The weep- 
ing aroused general hilarity. Mother Ghinka screamed, 
" Cry, you booby, can't you ? " The Countess groaned still 
louder, and the audience answered with loud laughter. 
Mother Ghinka cries, " Let me come there, and I'll cry for 
you something like ! " Hajji Simeon remarks to the 
audience that crying is a special art, ai^d that in Roumauia 
women are hired specially to cry at funerals. Some one 
shouts to him to be still, and he motions in turn to his 
listeners to be silent. But the appearance of Golos changes 
the situation. He tries to tempt Genevieve's chastity, but 
she replies to his offers with disdain, and calls for Drako to 
send him with a letter to the Count. Drako appears, and 
there is a general roar of laughter at his tall hat, which con- 
fuses him. Mother Ghinka calls out, " Drako, take off 
Alafranga's saucepan — off with it, man ! " He takes off the 
chimney-pot — more laughter. But the scene assumes a 
tragical character. The enraged Golos draws his sword to 
run Drako through, but before he stabs him Drako falls like 
a log to the ground, and remains motionless. The audience 
is dissatisfied with this foolish kind of death, and some 
clamour for Drako to get up and go through it again. 
Servants come in and drag him away by the feet, bumping 
his head along the ground. But Drako bears his pain 
heroically, and remams true to his part as a corpse. The 
Countess is flung into a dungeon. 

The act ends, and the Austrian hymn begins afresh. The 
room resounds with laughter and criticisms. The old women 
are dissatisfied with Genevieve, whose acting is not pathetic 
enough ; on the contrary, Golos had acted his ungrateful 
part fairly well, and had reaped the deserved hatred of 
several old grandmothers. One of them called to his 
mother, " My word, Tana, fine doings your Fratio's been up 
to ! Whatever has that poor girl done to him ? " 

In the front row Damiancho Grigoroff was explaining 
quietly to the Bey the plot of the first act. He surpassed 
himself in eloquence, telling a long story of some French 
Consul whom he had once known, and who had repudiated 
his wife through a similar intrigue. The Bey listened atten- 



94 UNDER THE YOKE 

lively, and the upshot was that he became convinced that 
the Count was the French Consul, and considered him as 
such ever after. 

" This consul seems to me to be a great fool," he said 
sternly, " or else why does he order his wife to be killed 
without even cross-examining her ? Why, I never have a 
street drunkard put in gaol without making Maikhl the 
constable smell his breath first." 

" But it's written like that on purpose, Bey Effendi, to 
make it more interesting," said Damiancho. 

" Well, sir, the author's a fool, and the consul a still 
greater one." 

Close by Stefchoff was also criticising the Count. 

" It's pretty plain," said he pompously and authorita- 
tively, "that Ognianoff never saw a theatre before in his life." 

" Why not ? He acts well enough," ventured Hajji 
Simeon. 

" Acts well ! — ^he acts Hke a monkey ; doesn't pay the 
slightest respect to the audience." 

" No ; that's true enough, he doesn't. Did you see how 
he sat down on that sofa of Bencho Oghlou's ? One would 
think he was own brother to Prince Couza," said Hajji 
Simeon severely. 

" We must hiss him," said Stefchoff, spitefully. 

" Yes, we must," concurred Hajji Simeon. 

" Who's going to hiss ? " asked some one in the same 
row. Both turned round. It was Kableshkoff. 

Kableshkoff had not yet become an " apostle." He 
happened to be on a visit to a relative at Bela Cherkva. 

Hajji Simeon was dismayed by the fiery look of the future 
*' apostle " ; he recoiled a little, so as to allow the real 
culprit, Stefchoff, to appear. 

" I am," answered Kiriak, boldly. 

" You're at liberty to do so, sir, but you'll go out into the 
street first." 

" And who asked your leave, I should like to know ? " 

" This performance is given for a charitable purpose, and 
the actors are amateurs. If you can do it any better go on 
the stage and try," said Kableshkoff, warmly. 

" I've paid for my seat, and don't require any advice 
from you," replied Stefchoff. 

Kableshkoff flamed up. The quarrel was taking an un- 
pleasant turn, when Micho Beyzade hurriedly intervened. 



THE THEATRICALS 95 

" Come, come, Kiriak, don't be a fool. That'll do, 
Todor." 

Just then the Austrian hymn stopped, and the curtain 
rose. 

This time the scene represented a dungeon lighted by a 
single candle. Genevieve, with her child in her arms, be- 
wails her fate piteously, and weeps. She noAv acts more 
naturally. The midnight hour, the gloomy cell, the sighs 
of an unhappy and powerless mother have a powerful effect 
on the spectators. Tears trickle down many of the 
women's faces. Tears are contagious, like laughter. The 
number of those weeping increases — even some of the men 
shed tears when she wTites to the Count. Kableshkoif, 
much moved, claps his hands at a pathetic passage. His 
applause, however, dies out in the complete silence and 
finds no echo. Indeed many an indignant look is levelled 
at him for his noisy interruption at the best place. Ivan 
Selamsiz, who was sobbmg loudly, gives him the angriest 
glance. Genevieve is carried off to the forest for execution. 
The curtain falls. Kableshkoff again applauds, and again 
his example remains unimitated. The custom of clapping 
one's hands had not yet been introduced at Bela Cherkva. 

" They seem a thorough-paced set of scoundrels in that 
country," remarked the Bey to Damiancho. " Where did 
you sav all this took place ? " 

" In Austria." 

" Austria ? I don't think I've ever seen any of those 
Ghiaours yet ? " 

" Oh, yes, your Excellency, you must have. Why, 
there's an Austrian living in the town now." 

" What, do you mean a little fellow, with double whiskers, 
and blue spectacles ? " 

" Yes, sir, the photographer." 

" Oh, he's a good little Ghiaour enough. He always 
takes off his hat to me, a la franga, in the street. I thought 
he was a Frenchman." 

" No, sir, he's an Austrian from Drandaburg." 

The third act followed. The scene again represented the 
castle. The Count has returned from the wars, careworn 
and gloomy now Genevieve is no longer there. A servant 
gives him Genevieve's letter written in the dungeon at the 
hour of death. In it she tells him that she is the victim of 
Golos' baseness, that she died innocent, and that she for- 



96 u:nder the yoke 

gives him . The Count reads this letter aloud — ^he bursts into 
despairing sobs. The spectators share his sufferings : they 
also weep, some of them sobbing loudly ; amongst these is 
the Bey, who requires no Damiancho to explain the scene to 
him. The general effect on the audience is heightened still 
more when the Count orders the treacherous Golos — the 
author of all his misfortune — to be brought in. Golos 
appears, ragged, repulsive, tortured by remorse, and loaded 
with chains, from the Konak prison. A hostile murmur 
from the spectators greets him. Fierce glances are cast 
upon him. The Count reads to him the letter in which the 
Countess forgives him too. The Count groans, tears his 
hair, beats his breast ; the audience cannot restrain its 
emotion ; even Mother Ghinka is in tears, but she tries to 
console the others by exclaiming : 

" Don't cry, good people, Genevieve's safe in the forest." 

Some old ladies who don't know the piece show eager 
surprise. 

" Is she really safe, Ghinka ? Then, for pity's sake, tell 
the poor fellow to stop crying," said grandmother Netko- 
vitsa ; and mother Hajji Pavlovitsa cannot restrain herself, 
but calls out amid her tears to the Count : 
- " Don't cry, my lad, don't cry, the girl's not dead." 

Meanwhile, Golos goes mad. He looks round him 
strangely, with staring eyes and dishevelled hair, beckons 
wildly and gnashes his teeth in despair. His conscience has 
driven him out of his senses : but his sufferings are a relief 
to the spectators. A malicious satisfaction appears on 
many faces. " Serve him right," cry the women. They 
are even angry with Genevieve for forgiving him in her 
letter. Fratio's mother, seeing her son in that desperate 
state, crushed simultaneously by the weight of his fetters 
and of public detestation, lost her own self-control : 

" They've destroyed my son," she cried, " they've driven 
him out of his senses." And she was on the point of 
rushing on to the stage, but her neighbours held her 
back. 

The act was a brilliant success. Shakespeare's Ophelia 
never called forth so many tears in one evening. 

The last act is in the forest. A cave is seen. At its 
mouth appears Genevieve, dressed in the skins of animals, 
with her child. A goat, for whom dried leaves had been 
provided so that it should not run away, represented the doe 



THE THEATRICALS 97 

who was supposed to feed them with her milk. Genevieve 
sadly talks to her child of its father, but hearing the bay of 
a hound retires hurriedly into the cave, dragging in by the 
horns the goat, which resists vigorously. The barking grows 
louder, and the audience is of opinion that Ilia the Inquisi- 
tive is more successful in that part. He barks so energeti- 
cally that he arouses a reply from some of the street-dogs V 
outside. Upon this the Count appears in hunting costume, 
with his train of huntsmen. The spectators hold their 
breath : they are eagerly waiting to see his meeting with 
Genevieve. Mother Ivanitsa begins to be afraid lest he 
should pass by the cave and suggests that he should be told 
that his wife is in there. But the Count has seen it. He 
stoops at the mouth of the cave, and exclaims : 

" Come forth, I charge ye, be ye man or beast ! " 

The reply came, however, not from the cave, but from the 
audience, in the shape of a loud hiss. 

Every one turned in surprise to\^'ards Stefchoff , who had 
become very red. 

" Who's that hissing ? " asked Selamsiz, angrily. The 
audience murmured dissatisfied. 

Ognianoff was trying to see who it was who had hissed. 
When he saw Stefchoff, who met his glance without 
flinching, he whispered to him : 

" I'll pull your long ears for you presently." 

Then came a fresh hiss, still louder. The audience was be- 
coming excited ; the dissatisfaction increased every minute. 

" Let's catch hold of this fellow, and I'll throw him out 
of the window," roared Anghel Yovkoff, a giant seven feet 
in height. And shouts were heard : " Turn him out ! Go 
out, Stefchoff." 

" We haven't come here to listen to clappings and hiss- 
ings," cried Selamsiz, who had misunderstood Kableshkoff's 
applause just before. 

" Kiriak, be quiet," cried even Mother Ghinka angrily, as 
Rada sat by her side in tears. 

Hajji Simeon whispered to Stefchoff : 

" Kiriak, didn't I tell you just now not to hiss ; don't you 
see they're common people and don't understand ? " 

" What's the gentleman hissing for ? " asked the Bey of 
Damiancho. 

Damiancho shrugged his shoulders ; the Bey whispered 
to a zaptie, who went straight to Stefchoff : " Kiriak," he 



98 UNDER THE YOKE 

said quietly, " the Bey thinks as you don't seem comfort- 
able, you'd better go and smoke a cigarette outside." 

Stefchoff rose and went out with a bitter smile, delighted 
at having spoilt the effect of Ognianoff's act. 

The tumult at once ceased. The play proceeds. The 
Count discovers his long-lost Countess ; they embrace — 
more sobs and tears. The spectators recover their spirits. 
Virtue's triumph over wickedness is complete. The Count 
and the Countess relate to one another their past sorrows 
and their present joys. Mother Petkovitska advises them : 
" Go home, dears, and be happy together, and don't trust 
these confounded Goloses " 

" Confound you yourself," cried Fratio's mother to her, 
infuriated at this abuse of her son. 

The Bey gave the same advice as Mother Petkovitsa, only 
in a lower tone. The general feeling was one of pleasure 
and satisfaction. The piece terminated with a song, in 
which the Count, Countess and their suite take part — 
" Count Siegfried, now rejoice in peace." 

Bat after the first two stanzas of the song had been gone 
through, suddenly on the stage broke out the revolutionary 
song : * 

Blaze forth, fond love of fatherland. 
Till 'gainst the Turk arrayed we stand ! 

u The sound fell like a thunderbolt upon the audience. 

At first only one voice had begun, one by one the whole 
troupe joined in, and it spread gradually till the entire 
audience took it up. A sudden and patriotic enthusiasm 
filled all those present. The bold and stirring air spread 
like some unseen wave, filled the hall, passed the threshold, 
and was wafted abroad into the night : it overcame every 
other sound, and sent a hot and fiery emotion through the 
blood. Its powerful notes awoke a new chord iii the 
audience. Every one who knew the song sang it in chorus 
— ^men and women. It drew all hearts with it, united the 
actors and the audieuce, and rose to heaven like a prayer. 

" Suig out, boys. God bless you ! Sing out ! " cried 
Micho. 

* In this and succeeding metrical versions, the metre of the original 
has been followed as closely as possible, and wherever the Bulgarian 
lines are in rhyme, an attempt has been made to imitate them in the 
English rendering. 



THE THEATRICALS 99 

But some of the older people present murmured, con- 
sidering this foolish excitement misplaced. 

Even the Bey, who did not understand a word of the song, 
listened to it delightedly. He asked Damiancho Grigoroff 
to interpret it to him one line after another. Any one else 
would have lost his head. But Damiancho was not a man 
to be puzzled by a difficult question. Besides, this was an 
opportunity for him to exhibit his powers. He explained it 
all to the Bey with an air of the greatest simplicity and 
veracity. The song, he said, expressed the ardent love the 
Count and Countess felt for one another. The Count says 
to her, "Hove you a hundred times more than before " ; to 
which she replies, " And I love you a thousand times more." 
He says he will build a church on the spot where the cave 
is ; and she vows to sell all her diamonds and dispose of the 
proceeds by building a hundred marble fountains. 

" That seems a great many fountains," said the Bey. 
" I should think a few bridges would have been more 
useful." 

" You see, sir, water is scarce in Austria ; that's why 
people drink so much beer there," answered Grigoroff. 

The Bey nodded approvingly at this reply. 

" But where is Golos ? " asked the Bey, as he looked in 
vain for Eratio among the actors. 

" He doesn't come on any more, sir." 

*' Quite right ; they ought to hang the scoundrel. If 
they ever act this piece again, you tell the Consul not to 
leave him alive — that'll serve him right." 

And in truth Fratio was not among his colleagues. He 
had discreetly withdrawn when the seditious song began, 
not being desirous of the applause of the public. 

The song came to an end, and the curtain fell amid cries 
of " Bravo ! " The Austrian hymn began again, and 
played the spectators out. The room was soon empty. 

The actors changed their clothes behind the scenes, and 
conversed gaily with the friends who had come to con-' 
gratulate them. 

" Deuce take you, Kableshkoff ! What a fellow you are ! 
What made you do it ? You suddenly appeared behind my 
back, and began to roar the song out like a bull. You're 
as reckless as a gipsy ! " said Ognianoff, taking off Prince 
Svatoslav's boots. 

" I couldn't restrain myself, my boy. I was sick of all 



100 UNDER THE YOKE 

this sobbing and all the women's wailing over your ' long- 
suffering ' wife. Something stirring was needed, and I 
think I gave it them ! " 

" I was expecting every moment to be tapped on the 
shoulder by a zap tie," laughed Ognianoff. 

" Don't be afraid ; Stefchoff went off long before," said 
Sokoloff. 

" The Bey turned him out," said the teacher Frangoff. 

" But the Bey was there himself," said others. " I saw 
him listening very attentively. There'll be the devil to pay 
to-morrow." 

" Don't you bother about him. Wasn't Damiancho 
Grigoroff sitting next to him ? He'll have made things all 
right, or I'll never call him a diplomat again." 

" I had him put next the Bey on purpose to tell him 
stories. Don't you bother about him," remarked Nikolai 
Netkovitch, as he took off Pope Dimcho's gown, in which 
he had played the part of Genevieve's father. 

But he had not reckoned on treachery. Next morning 
Ognianoff was summoned to the Konak. 

He found the Bey in an angry mood. 

*' Konsoloss Effendi," said he, " did you or did you not 
sing a seditious song last night ? " 

Ognianoff protested his innocence. 

" But the on-bashi assures me you did." 

" He is misinformed, sir ; you were there yourself." 

The Bey sent for the on-bashi. 

" Sherif Aga, when w^as this song sung — ^in my presence 
or after I had gone ? " 

" The revolutionary song was sung in your presence, Bey 
Effendi. Kiriak Effendi isn't likely to have told a lie 
about it." 

The Bey looked at him angrily : his vanity was wounded. 

" What rubbish you talk, Sherif Aga ! Was I there or 
Kiriak ? Didn't I Jdear it with my own ears ? Damiancho 
translated the song to me word for word, and I talked about 
it afterwards to Marko Chorbaji, who said the singing was 
first-rate. Don't let this kind of thing occur again," said 
the Bey, sternly. Then turning to Ognianoff, " Consul, I'm 
sorry to have troubled you ; it was all a mistake. Ah ! wait 
a moment. What do you call that fellow — ^the one in 
chains, I mean ? " 

" Golos." 



TWO STROKES OF LUCK 101 

" Ah, yes ! Golos. You'd have done better to have given 
orders to hang him. That's what I'd have done. Never 
listen to women's advice. But the play was very good 
indeed, and the song was the best part of it," said the Bey, 
still sore on the point. 

Ognianoff saluted and went out. 

" You'll be hearing another kind of song one of these 
days," he thought to himself as he went out of the room ; 
" and you won't want Damiancho to translate it for you." 

But he did not notice the ominous glance cast at him by 
the on-bashi as he passed out. 

CHAPTER XVII : TWO STROKES. OF: XTjC!K ; •' 
The next day was a saint's day. The higoumen Natanail 
was standing on one side of the chancel, near the pulpit, 
chanting the canticle. Suddenly he felt some one plucking 
his sleeve ; he turned round and saw Mouncho standing by 
him. 

The higoumen gave him a severe look. 

" What do you want, Mouncho ? Be ofiP with you," he 
said angrily and resumed the canticle. 

But Mouncho again pulled at his sleeve vigorously and 
would not let go. He turned round once more, and saw to 
his surprise that Mouncho was in a state of great excite- 
ment : his eyes were staring with a look of terror and he 
was trembling from head to foot. 

" Well — what is it, Mouncho ? " the higoumen asked 
sternly. 

Mouncho nodded frantically, opened his eyes still wider, 
drew himseK up, and exclaimed wildly : 

" The Russian — at the mill — Turks ! " and instead of 
continuing he moved his arms to imitate the action of 
digging. 

The higoumen stared at him in bewilderment : suddenly 
the truth flashed upon him with lightning rapidity. Moun- 
cho must have had some inkling of what there was buried 
near the mill : indeed, as he mentioned the " Russian," it 
seemed that he knew the whole secret. How ? The 
higoumen could not even guess : it was enough for him to 
know that the secret was £10 wn to the authorities. 

" Boicho is done for ! " muttered Natanail in despair, 
forgetting the canticle and the whole service, and not seeing 



102 UNDER THE YOKE 

the desperate signs !Father Gedeon was making to him from 
the opposite pulpit to tell him that it was his turn to go on. 
Natanail cast a glance at the altar where Vikenti was busy 
mth the liturgy, signed to Father Gedeon to finish the 
canticle as best he could, and hurried from the church. In 
one moment he was in the stable, in another he was 
galloping like wildfire to the town. 

It was a bitterly cold morning. There had been a sharp 
white frost during the night, and grass and trees sparkled 
with rime. The. higoumen spurred on his fat little black 
horse 'mercileijjsly J he was hurrying to save Ognianoff if 
there was yet lime. He Jmew that the rumours which had 
b^^ spread Ut'ihe Ume had allayed all suspicion as to the 
disappearance of' the tw6 Turks. Who, therefore, could 
now have stimulated to action the apathetic chief of the 
police ? Undoubtedly some traitor. But who could it 
have been ? He did not believe it could have been 
Mouncho, even if Mouncho knew the secret. He knew how 
the idiot idolised Ognianoff — ^he might have betrayed him 
unwittingly ; but there must have been treachery. And 
the consequences to Ognianoff would be terrible. 

In four minutes he had covered the distance which 
usually took a quarter of an hour, from the monastery to 
the town. Hishorse was white with foam. He left him on 
the way at his brother's house and hurried on foot to 
Ognianoff 's lodgings. 

" Is Boicho here ? " he asked, anxiously. 

" No, he's gone out. Three zap ties have just been here 
to look for him and searched every comer of the house. 
What do the brutes want of him ? — one would think he'd 
committed a murder," grumbled the landlord. 

" Where's he gone ? " 

" I don't know." 

" A bad job, but there's still some hope," thought the 
higoumen, and hastened to Dr. Sokoloff's house. He 
knew that Ognianoff was not a regular church-goer, and did 
not even think of searching for him in church. As he 
passed by Ganko's cafe he looked in, but Boicho was not 
there. "At least I can learn from Sokoloff where he is, 
if they haven't caught him already," thought Natanail, 
as he hurried into the courtyard. 

" Is there anybody at home, old lady ? " he asked of the 
housekeeper. 



TWO STROKES OF LUCK 103 

"No, your worship," she replied, throwing down her 
broom and hastening to kiss the higoumen's hand. 

" Where's the doctor ? " he asked, with annoyance. 

" I don't know, your Reverence," answered the woman 
with an air of confusion, looking about her aimlessly. 

" Dear me ! dear me ! " muttered the higoumen, making 
for the door. 

The old woman followed him, " Wait a moment, your 
Reverence." 

" What is it ?" he asked, impatiently. 

She assumed a look of mystery, and whispered : 

" He's here, right enough, but he's hiding ; the Turks have 
just been to look for him. I beg your pardon. Father." 

" He's not hiding from me. Why didn't you tell me at 
once ? " cried the higoumen, as he passed rapidly through 
the courtyard and knocked at the door, which the doctor 
opened at once. 

" Where's Boicho ? " were the higoumen's first words. 

" With Rada — what is it ? " The doctor guessed that 
something very serious must have happened, and grew 
deadly pale. 

" They're at this moment digging at the mill. There's 
been treachery at work." 

" Oh ! Boicho's ruined," cried the doctor in despair. 
" He must be warned at once." 

"They've been to his house to look for him, but he 
wasn't there," continued the higoumen excitedly. " I 
came at full gallop on horseback to warn him. My God ! 
what will become of the lad ? they've found out all. Where 
are you going to ? " he asked with surprise. 

" I'll run round to Boicho — we must save him, if it's not 
too late," said the doctor, opening the door. 

The higoumen looked at him in increasing bewilderment. 

" Well ? and how about you ? They're looking for you 
too. I'd better go." 

The doctor made a movement of dissent. 

" Not to be thought of — your appearance at Rada's 
rooms or in church would be noticed at once ; it would 
create a scandal." 

" Yes, but you'll fall into their hands." 

" Perhaps ; but by hook or by crook I must give him 
warning. The real danger is for Boicho. I'll go through 
the back streets," 



104 UNDER THE YOKE 

And the doctor disappeared through the door. 

The higoumen blessed him with tears in his eyes. 

The doctor knew that Ognianoff had an appointment for 
that morning at the girls' school, where he was to meet an 
emissary from the Pazarjik Revolutionary Committee. A 
few hurried steps brought him to the church unnoticed by 
the police, and he rushed upstairs to the girls' school where 
Rada was now living : he burst into the room like a hurri- 
cane ; his sudden appearance in so precipitate a manner 
threw the girl into a state of confusion. 

" Has Boicho been here ? " he cried, panting, without a 
word of greeting. 

" He's just gone out," replied Rada. " But why are you 
so pale ? " 

" Where has he gone ! " 

" To church ; what's the matter ? My God ! who's 
looking for him ? " 

" To church ? " cried Sokoloff without further explana- 
tion, and opened the door to go out. But he drew back at 
once, dismayed. He saw that the on-bashi was placing a 
guard round the church doors. 

" Whatever is it, doctor ? " asked the poor school- 
mistress, with a presentiment of trouble. 

Sokoloff drew her to the window, and pointed to the 
zapties. 

" Do you see ? — they're on the watch for Boicho. He's 
been betrayed, Rada. They're looking for me, too. Ah, 
what misery ! " he cried, clasping his head with both 
hands. 

Rada sank powerless on the divan. Her round face, 
pale with terror, seemed still whiter beneath her black 
hood : she was like marble. 

Sokoloff stared. from the window. He dared not show 
himself to the zapties, and was trying to find some trusty 
friend whom he could ask to warn Ognianoff of the fearful 
danger he was in. 

Suddenly he caught sight of Fratio passing under the 
window on his way to church. 

" Fratio, Fratio ! " he called in low tones, " come 
nearer." 

Fratio stopped. 

"Fratio, you're going to the men's church, aren't 
you ? " 



TWO STROKES OF LUCK 105 

" Yes — as usual," replied Fratio. 

" Boicho's there ; tell him — there's a good fellow ! — to 
look out for himself. The zapties are waiting for him 
outside." 

Fratio cast an anxious glance at the church, and saw that 
the three exits were guarded by zapties. His diminutive 
face blanched with terror. 

" Will you tell him ? " asked the doctor, impatiently. 

" What— I ? Ye— e— s— I'll tell him," repHed the 
prudent Fratio, with evident hesitation. Then he added 
suspiciously : 

" Why don't you tell him yourself, doctor ? " 

" They're on the look-out for me, too," whispered the 
doctor. 

Fratio's face fell still more. He hastened away from so 
perilous a conversation, and moved on. 

" At once, Fratio — do you hear ? " repeated SokolofF for 
the last time. 

Fratio nodded affirmatively, went on a few steps, and 
then turned off and entered the nuns' convent. 

When the doctor saw this he tore his hair in desperation. 
He was no longer thinking of himself but of his friend. 
He saw thab even if he could be warned now it would be 
too late — that only a miracle could save him from the 
hands of the police. There was only a faint ray of hope left. 

For there really had been treachery. Stefchoff had 
proceeded early that morning to the Konak, and had 
disclosed to the Bey certain suspicions he had long enter- 
tained with regard to Ognianoff. At the same moment 
a terrible thought flashed upon him. He remembered the 
affair with Yemeksiz's greyhound, which the on-bashi had 
related to him the day before. Neither he nor the on-bashi 
had at the time been able to understand the dog's fury 
against OgnianofF, nor why it persisted in digging up the 
ground round the mill. What was the animal looking 
for ? Why had it flown at Ognianoff ? Was there in all 
this a clue to the mysterious disappearance of the two 
Turks, which, moreover, had coincided in point of time 
with Ognianoff 's arrival in the town? Undoubtedly 
Ognianoff had a finger in it. Stefchoff's malignant mind 
drew all these conclusions with lightning rapidity, and 
they gave irresistible force to the terrible suspicions he had 
long cherished. 



106 UNDER THE YOKE 

Stefchoff at once suggested that they should dig round 
Stoyan's mill. The Bey immediately gave orders to this 
effect. His plan was to arrest Ognianoff as early and as 
quietly as possible, so as to avoid any unnecessary dis- 
turbance. By nine o'clock the bodies of the two Turks 
were found, and Ognianoff 's fate was sealed. He was 
now tracked like a wild beast. The on-bashi preferred to 
arrest him outside the church : the entry of the police 
would have disturbed the whole congregation, and have 
stimulated Ognianoff to a desperate resistance. It would 
be better to take him unawares. While Sokoloff was 
bewailing his fate on one side, and Rada lay fainting on 
the other, suddenly a heavy footstep was heard on the 
stairs. The doctor started and listened attentively. The 
steps slowly approached : the new arrival, who was 
evidently leaning heavily on a stick, stopped outside the 
door. And a voice was heard chanting, in imitation of the 
church choir : 

"Be pleased to bless, good Lord, the followers of Thy 
word : Holy Serafima and gentle Cherubima." 

" It's Kolcho," cried the doctor, opening the door. 

The blind man came in freely, he was at home every- 
where. 

" Have you been to church, Kolcho ? " 

" Yes." 

*' Did you see Ognianoff there ? " asked the doctor im- 
patiently. 

" Well, my spectacles haven't come from America yet, 
so I couldn't see him. But I know he's in there, near the 
altar, by Frangoff." 

The doctor spoke to him seriously : 

" Kolcho — listen to me. This is no time for jesting. 
The police are after Ognianoff, and the zapties are watching 
for him at the doors. He doesn't know anything about it. 
He's lost if some one doesn't warn him." 

" I'll go ! " 

*' Do, Kolcho, dear, I entreat you," said Rada, whose 
hopes revived. 

" I'd go myself, but the police are after me too. But 
they'll let you in — go, will you ? " said the doctor. 

" Will I ? Why, I'd give my miserable life for Ognianoff, 
if necessary. What am I to tell him ? " asked the blind 
man eagerly. 



A DIFFICULT MISSION 107 

" Tell him only this : Everj^thing is discovered ; the 
church doors are guarded by zapties ; save yourself as best 
you can." 

He added, gloomily : "If they haven't indeed already 
sent some one in to get him out by a trick." 

Kolcho understood the importance of every moment, and 
went out hurriedly. 

CHAPTER XVIII : A DIFFICULT MISSION 

Kolcho went slowly down the stairs, feeling each step with 
his stick. But when he reached the courtyard he went on 
boldly and entered the porch. There he stopped, feeling 
giddy, and as he searched his pockets for his handkerchief 
he heard Sherif Aga giving his instructions : 

" Hassan Aga," he was saying in a low voice, " go and 
tell the others to keep their eyes open. If he resists, shoot 
him down at once." 

" Nenko, my boy, go in and call the Count — you know, 
Ognianoff the teacher — tell him there's a man who wants to 
see him at once," said Filcho the constable to some small 
boy, as far as Kolcho could tell. 

He began to fear lest they should be beforehand with 
him : he raised the heavy curtain and went in. The church 
was thronged with people. Hajji Atanasi was chanting the 
last anthem and the final benediction was at hand. The 
crowd was unusually thick, because there had been a great 
many communicants and several requiem services that day. 
Consequently the whole aisle was blocked with people. 
The blind man was as it were plunged in an impenetrable 
forest, as dark as night, which, indeed, was eternal with 
Kolcho. His instinct guided him aright ; but how was he 
to surmount that wall of opposing hands, breasts, shoulders, 
and feet ? Slender and diminutive though he was, it was 
out of the question to think of forcing his way to the altar 
by Ognianoff. It would have been a difficult task for a 
Goliath. He pushed on for a certain distance, but stopped, 
wearied out. He tried here and there, in the night, to get 
through, but in vain ; the wall was un5delding. Indeed, 
many muttered angrily to him not to push, and threatened 
to force him back. Iron elbows crushed his feeble sides. 
He was exhausted. In a few minutes would come the 
" Walk ye in the fear of the Lord and the faith," the stream 



108 UNDER THE YOKE 

would flow out, and Kolcho would be carried away with 
it. And then Ognianoff was lost. Besides — ^who knows ? — 
perhaps at that very minute the boy had reached Ognianoff 
by some other door, and induced him to come out un- 
suspecting. He might be passing by Kolcho, pushing 
against him with his elbow, and Kolcho knowing nothing. 
He stretched out his hand instinctively to feel if there was a 
boy there. As luck would have it his hand encountered a 
body which seemed to him that of a boy': his terrified 
mind at once jumped to the conclusion that it was the ill- 
omened messenger on his way to call Ognianoff. In his 
excitement he pushed him back with all his might, saying 
hurriedly and almost unconsciously : "Is that you, boy ? 
what's your name, boy ? stand back, boy ! " Just then the 
swaying of the crowd separated them. Kolcho was in 
despair. The poor, honest lad was suffering agonies. He 
felt with terror that Ognianoff's Hfe depended on a single 
hair, and that he, Kolcho, weak, powerless, lost, almost 
invisible in that sea of human beings, was that hair. And 
the anthem was almost over. Haj ji Atanasi, usually so slow 
and tedious, was going through his chant at lightning speed. 
What was to be done ? Critical moments suggest rapid 
decisions. Kolcho exclaimed despairingly : 

" Make way, good people — I'm dying — I'm fainting," and 
he pushed forward with all his might. At this appeal every 
one made an effort to allow the sufferer to pass : no one 
wanted to crush him to death. By this stratagem Kolcho 
squeezed past them and reached the altar more dead than 
alive. He found Ognianoff without asking anybody — such 
is the marvellous instinct of the sightless. He grasped an 
arm quite confidently and asked in a whisper : 

" Is that you. Master Boicho ? " 

" Yes, what is it ? " answered Ognianoff. 

'' Bend down." 

Ognianoff stooped with his ear to the blind man's lips. 

When he rose again he was livid. 

For a moment he was plunged in thought. The veins of 
his forehead swelled out and showed the terrible mental 
struggle going on within. 

He bent down again and whispered something to 
Kolcho. 

Then he left the altar, moved forward, and was lost in the 
crowd of communicants standing there. 



A DIFFICULT MISSION 109 

At that very moment the sanctuary doors were thrown 
open, and Pope Nikodim, with the Eucharist in his hands, 
began : " Walk ye in the fear of God," and the service was 
over. 

The congregation poured out from the doors Hke a torrent 
which has just been loosed. In half an hour the last old 
woman among the communicants had left the church. 

The only person left was the officiating priest, who was 
taking off his vestments. 

Then the zapties and constables came in. The on-bashi 
was enraged at the non-appearance of Ognianoff . He must 
be hidden in the church. The doors were locked and the 
search began. Some climbed over the trelUs partitions of 
the women's places ; others hunted under the altar and in 
the corners ; others, again, searched the sanctuary. Every- 
thing was turned inside out, every comer which could 
possibly serve as a hiding-place was overhauled ; the zapties 
searched behind the lecterns, in the cupboards where the 
vestments were kept, in the chest of eikons, in the embra- 
sures of the windows — but no one was to be seen . Ognianoff 
seemed to have sunk into the ground. The sexton himself 
showed all the Ukely places, being convinced that Ognianoff 
was not hidden there. After a while Pope Nikodim began 
to join in the search, fumbUng everywhere, with bewilder- 
ment depicted on his countenance. He began to look even 
among the books and vestments. The on-bashi himself 
began to be astonished at such zeal. The constable Mikhail 
pointed out to him that not even a chicken, much less a man, 
could be concealed there. 

" I'm looking for something else altogether," grumbled 
the Pope. 

" What ? " 

*' Why, my fur cloak has disappeared, and my hat, and 
my blue spectacles in it." 

The poor Pope was already shivering with cold. 

" Ah, I see it all, Sherif Aga," cried Mikhail. 

Sherif Aga came up hot and panting. 

" A thief's always a thief," added the constable with 
secret satisfaction : " he's stolen the old Pope's clothes." 

Sherif Aga remained speechless ; when he recovered ; 
■ " Is that so. Pope ? " 

" My cloak's gone, and my hat and my spectacles — they've 
all vanished," said the Pope, tearfuUy. 



110 UNDER THE YOKE 

" He must have stolen them," said Sherif Aga, with the 
air of a man who has just made a great discovery. 

" Of course, the Count must have put on the robe and 
the hat, and gone out quietly without our recognising him," 
said the constable. 

" That's it," said the Pope. " He must have taken them 
while I was administering the sacrament." 

" Well, I did see a Pope at the door with blue spectacles 
on," said one of the zap ties. 

" And why didn't you stop him, you fool ? " cried his 
superior. 

" Why should I stop him ? We weren't told to look for a 
Pope, but an ordinary man," said the zapti^ in self -justifica- 
tion. 

" That was him, I'll be bound," cried Mikhail ; '' that 
was why he was so closely wrapped up — one could only see 
his spectacles. His own mother wouldn't have known 
him." 

A loud knocking was heard at the door. Sherif Aga 
ordered it to be opened. 

The constable Filcho and the churchwarden came in. 

" Sherif Aga, the Count's in the trap," cried Filcho. 

" Yes, he's hidden himself in the nuns' convent ; he was 
seen going in," added the churchwarden. 

" To the convent — at once ! " 

And they all hurried out. 



CHAPTER XIX : A DISAGREEABLE VISIT 

In a few moments the pohce had reached the convent gates. 
Sherif Aga left two sentinels there with drawn swords and 
revolvers cocked. 

" You're to allow no one either to come in or go out," he 
ordered, and then hastened into the courtyard with the rest 
of his men. 

Their entry caused a great commotion in the convent, 
and spread confusion and terror in all the cells. The nuns 
ran up and down stairs, scampered through the corridors and 
verandahs, with their visitors behind them, and the noise 
and clamour was indescribable. The on-bashi made fruit- 
less efforts to reassure them — ^he called out to them in 
Turkish, but they could scarcely hear and still less under- 
stand what he said. Meanwhile, the zapti^s seized every 



A DISAGREEABLE VISIT 111 

Pope they could find, as well as everybody who wore 
spectacles, blue or otherwise, and even two people called 
Bocho — all these they locked up in a small room. Amongst 
them were Kandoff and Brzobegounek. The latter, how- 
ever, was at once released, with humble apologies, by the 
on-bashi as being no raya, but a subject of the Emperor of 
Austria. Kandoff protested from the windows against this 
unwarranted restraint of his personal liberty, and was in a 
towering passion : his companions however remained quiet, 
as they knew too well the customs of the Turkish police. 

" Why, one would think you'd never seen a Turk before, 
Kandoff," said a Pope. 

" Yes, but this is illegal, it's oppression, it's tyranny, it's 
an infraction of the most sacred of human rights." 

" That sort of tyranny and oppression can't be put an end 
to by complaints — this is the thing for it," said Bocho the 
butcher, showing his knife. 

In his haste Sherif Aga had not thought of inquiring who it 
was that had seen Ognianoff go into the convent, nor what 
clothes he was wearing : he had at once hurriedly begun to 
search the gallery where the fugitive was reported to have 
hidden himself. Hajji Bovoama's cell was on this gallery. 
The nuns were recovering from their first fright and were 
loud in their protestations ; they complaiued bitterly that 
they should be suspected of harbouring criminals. Hajji 
Rovoama was the most vociferous in her indignation ; she 
knew Turkish and was able to pour such a flood of abuse at 
the on-bashi as soon turned him to flight ignominiously. 
But the search went on feverishly in the other cells. 
Ognianoff was being hunted for so carefully that sooner or 
later he was bound to be discovered. Sherif Aga's reputa- 
tion was at stake ; he was determined to find the culprit ; 
not a single cupboard or chest was left unsearched, cellars 
and dark comers were ransacked. All expected, in terror, 
every moment to hear that the unhappy " Count " had been 
caught in some cell. 

Indeed, at one moment there were cries of " They've got 
him " ; but it turned out that it was Fratio, who had been 
found hidden under Sister Nimfidora's divan — he was at 
once released. 

Rada, supporting herself by the beams of the gallery, was 
watching the search with terrible anxiety. She was in a 
state of frantic terror : her cheeks were wet with tears. 



112 UNDER THE YOKE 

She took no pains to conceal her emotion — indeed, it would 
have been useless ; her grief convinced every one that she 
was in love with Ognianoff : many cast hostile glances at 
her, but she cared little for the opinion of these women, so 
cold and merciless before the misfortunes which threatened 
her lover. She allowed her tears to flow unrestrained. 

On one side two nuns were eagerly whispering together 
and pointing mysteriously to Hajji Daria's cell. Hajji 
Daria was Sokoloff's aunt and Boicho's chief partisan. 
Boicho was doubtless in there now, and the search came 
every moment nearer and nearer to Hajji Daria's cell. 
Rada's heart almost stopped beating. She was petrified 
with anxiety. Oh ! God, what was to be done ? 

Kolcho silently approached her — he knew her by her sobs 
and whispered : 

" Rada, are you alone ? " 

" Yes, Kolcho, quite alone," she answered tearfully. 

" Don't be uneasy, Rada," he whispered. 

" What do you mean, Kolcho ? And if they find him ? 
He's in there. You know you said yourself some one saw 
him go in." 

*' I don't think he's there, Rada." 

*' But everybody else thinks he is." 

" Sh ! I spread the rumour myself. Boicho told me to, 
in church. Let the police waste their time here. Ognia- 
noff's at this moment as free as a wolf on the mountain," 

The poor girl could scarcely restrain herself from embra- 
cing the bhnd man. Her face Hghted up with a bright and 
sudden joy, like the sky after a storm. 

She went quietly and joyfully into sister Hajji Rovoama's 
cell ; the sister at once noticed her changed demeanour, and 
frowned with vexation. 

" I wonder if the slut knows he's not in the convent," she 
thought bitterly. 

Then, with a look of interrogation, she said : 

" Why, Rada, you've been crying ! Crying for a brigand 
and murderer ! Go on ; that's right, make yourself a laugh- 
ing-stock before the whole world." 

Rada's heart was swelling with happiness. 

" Why shouldn't I cry ? " she answered boldly. " Some 
one may well cry for him when every one else is gloating 
over his fall." 

This daring reply seemed to the nun inconceivably 



A DISAGREEABLE VISIT 113 

improper. She was not used to being answered. She 
clenched her teeth with rage. 

" Be quiet, you shameless hussy." 

*' I'm not a shameless hussy." 

" You're a shameless hussy and a stupid idiot ; and your 
bloodthirsty murderer of a lover will be on his way to the 
gallows before the day's over." 

" Perhaps ; if they catch him," answered Rada, sharply. 

Hajji Rovoama started forward, mad with rage : 

*' Get out, you imp of Satan ; never darken my threshold 
again," she cried, spuming Rada from the door. 

Rada went back to the gallery as if nothing had happened. 
What did she care for Hajji Rovoama's scorn, or for the 
insulting manner in which she had been turned out ? She 
was quite happy, her heart was at peace : indeed, she was 
glad at having broken off all relations with her unkind pro- 
tectress. Soon, perhaps that very day, they might dismiss 
her from the school, and she would find herself homeless and 
penniless. 

But what did all that matter ? She knew that Boicho was 
safe, safe as a wolf on the mountain, as Kolcho said. God ! 
how good Kolcho was ! What a kindly and sympathetic 
soul, compassionate for the misfortunes of others, and forget- 
ful of his own, poor fellow. And how many others would 
have remained blind and heedless before other people's 
sufferings. That Stefchoff for instance — the savage, who 
was now impatiently awaiting Boicho 's destruction ! But 
Boicho was far away from his enemies now. They would 
have no cause to triumph ; but how happy good people 
would be at his escape. No, there was no one, no one 
in the whole world as happy as she was. While she was 
taken up by these bright and innocent thoughts, she sud- 
denly saw Kolcho quietly feeling his way downstairs. 

" Kolcho ! " she cried, without knowing what for. 

" Rada, is that you calling ? " and Kolcho turned back. 

" My God ! what did I want to call back the poor boy 
for, uselessly," she thought to herself with shame ; she ran 
towards him, stopped him, and said, " Kolcho, dear, it's 
nothing— I only wanted to shake hands," and she pressed 
his hand with warm gratitude. 

The search went on. Sherif Aga, wearied out, left it to 
his men and proceeded to examine the wearers of Popes' 
hats and blue spectacles, whom he had forgotten. 



114 UNDER THE YOKE 

Kandoff was still protesting against the violence done to 
his person in defiance of all justice. 

The on-bashi, astounded, asked one of them to translate 
into Turkish the words of the enraged Chelebi. 

*' Say it again, Kandoff, and I'll turn it into Turkish," 
said Bencho Dermanoff, who was the best Turkish scholar 
present. 

"Tell him, will you," added Kandoff, "that the inviola- 
bility of my person, which is the most precious of human 
prerogatives, in defiance of all legahty and every principle 
of justice " 

Bencho stopped him with a despairing wave of the 
hand. 

" Why, the very words don't exist in Turkish. You'd 
better leave it alone, Kandoff." 

At last the convent was freed of its unwelcome guests, 
who went on to search the garden and the neighbouring 
houses. 



CHAPTER XX : THE FUGITIVE 

Once more Ognianoff owed his life to his presence of 
mind. 

No sooner was he out of the town than his first care was 
to hide his Pope's hat and fur cloak behind a bush. 

The snowstorm which had fortunately come on had 
enabled him to pass unseen through the deserted streets : 
outside the town it was still fiercer. The mountain blasts 
whistled shrill, the ridge of the Stara Planina was as if 
powdered over with salt. The fields, deserted and lifeless, 
assumed an unspeakably dreary aspect under their icy 
shroud. Luckily the sun soon after penetrated the clouds 
and shed its invigorating warmth on the frozen landscape. 

Ognianoff fled to the westward across the trackless fields 
and through vineyards seamed with ravines and dry water- 
courses. He was much perturbed. Some fataHty seemed 
to have allied itself with Stefchoff and to be pressing 
relentlessly after him. In one moment he saw the whole 
edifice, built up so sedulously and with such tender care, 
crumbhng in ruin before him. He saw the deacon, the 
doctor, old Stoyan, and perhaps other firm and devoted 
friends, flung into prison, Rada overwhelmed with grief, 
his enemies everywhere triumphant. He could not divine 



THE FUGITIVE 115 

the circumstances which had brought about this discovery. 
All his worst forebodings passed before his eyes. But was 
the game irretrievably lost ? Would this discovery lead to 
fresh revelations ? His flight now seemed to him to be an 
act of base cowardice. He was desirous of returning, so as 
to assure himself of the extent of the evil : he was no 
longer thinking of himself : his fearlessness was quite 
sufficient for such an undertaking. But reflection showed 
that he must, at least, disguise himself first so as to be 
unrecognisable. So he pushed on. He determined to 
make for Ovcheri, a village where he numbered his most 
faithful adherents, and to which he most frequently repaired 
in his periodical journeys. At uncle Delko's he would 
be able to think things over quietly. But the path to 
Ovcheri, which was hidden away in a valley amid the 
sohtary outskirts of the Sredna Gora, was full of dangers 
for Ognianoff, for it passed through the numerous Turkish 
villages which abounded in those parts. The news of the 
discovery of the bodies of the two buUies would be sure to 
reach those semi-brigand haunts that very day. Even if 
they did not seize him on suspicion they were quite Hkely 
to cut him down as a ghiaour : not a day passed without 
some such occurrence in the neighbourhood ; and his town 
clothing made such an eventuality still more probable. It 
was folly to be over-confident ; it would be going to certain 
desti-uction. He determined to wait for nightfall, and with 
this view he retreated towards the spurs of the Stara 
Planina, where he would be sheltered by the clustering 
thickets of dwarf oak. 

After two hours' arduous cHmbing over precipices and 
through wild mountain passes, he reached the nearest 
thickets. There he found a hiding-place among the dry 
bushes, and stretched himself out at full length to repose, or 
rather to think over his position. The sky had quite cleared 
up. The autumn sun shone bright and warm, and the melt- 
ing hoar-frost and snow glistened on the grass and the 
boughs. Here and there sparrows fiuttered silently over- 
head, ahghting every now and then to find some food on the 
ground. An eagle of the Balkans floated high above 
Ognianoff's head : it had scented a carcase close by, or else 
took Ognianoff to be such. This thought made the fugitive 
still more gloomy. The eagle seemed to him to be a por- 
tent of evil. He took it to be a living emblem of his 



116 UNDER THE YOKE 

unenviable fate : the bird of prey seemed awaiting its feast 
of blood, for which it had left its eyrie on high. For every- 
thing was possible. That wild spot was far from being 
safe ; it was frequently resorted to by Turkish sportsmen, 
little better than brigands. Ognianoff waited with im- 
patience for sunset, and several times changed his place 
for a more secret refuge. The day seemed inconceivably 
long ; the sun still shone unwearied. And the eagle still 
floated overhead. Twice or three times it flapped its wings, 
and then stretched them out black and motionless in mid- 
air. Ognianofl's eyes seemed fascinated by the bird, but 
his thoughts were far away. Before his troubled mind 
passed one after another visions of the past — days of 
youth, days of struggles, of suffering, and of faith in a lofty 
ideal. And Bulgaria, which had inspired all these — Bulgaria 
was so fair, so bright, so worthy of all sacrifices ! She was 
a goddess that lived on the blood of her worshippers. Her 
bloody aureole bore on it a scroll of glorious names ; and 
Ognianoff sought for his own name among them, and 
fancied he saw it there. How proud he was — ^how ready 
to die — ^nay, to fight for her ! Death was an exalted 
sacrifice, but the struggle was a great mystery. 

Suddenly a gunshot was heard. Ognianoff started. The 
Balkan echoes reverberated the sound till it died away. 

" Probably some one out after game," he said to himself. 

Ognianoff's rehef was but short-Hved. A quarter of an 
hour later he heard the bark of a dog at no great distance. 
The bark was immediately followed by a human voice. 
Ognianoff was involuntarily reminded of the greyhound of 
Yemeksiz, who had belonged to the neighbouring village. 
The bark seemed to him to be familiar. It was repeated, 
this time nearer ; the thickets rustled as if with the wind, 
and two greyhounds rushed towards him with their muzzles 
to the ground. 

Ognianoff sighed with relief. 

Yemeksiz Pehlivan's dog was not there : the animal had 
been trained to pursue human beings as well as game. 
That accursed creature, contrary to the ordinary nature of 
greyhounds, which are generally dull and gentle beasts 
enough, was very vindictive, as was seen at the monastery. 
It had appeared as Stefchofl's ally and had prepared 
Ognianoff's destruction. When the dogs saw him retreating 
into the thicket they approached him, sniffed, and passed 



THE FUGITIVE lir 

on. Suddenly Ognianoff heard men's footsteps approach- 
ing. He fled through the bushes without looking behind 
him. Three shots were fired, he felt a sharp sting in the 
heel and trebled the speed of his flight. Whether they 
were pursuing him, or what was going on behind, he knew 
not. The valley of a stream appeared before him. He 
plunged into the low bushes on the bank and lay hidden 
there. Probably the hunters had lost him. Ognianofl lay 
listening for a long time, but not a sound was to be heard. 
Then he felt something hot and moist on his foot. '* I'm 
wounded," he thought with terror, seeing his boot drenched 
with blood. He took off his left boot and saw that blood 
was gushing from two places, the buUet had passed right 
through his heel. He tore off a piece of his shirt and 
staunched the blood. The pain grew more intense, and a 
long and difficult path still lay before him. The loss of 
blood had greatly weakened him, and he had moreover 
eaten nothing that day. Soon it became quite dark, and 
he left his hiding-place, which was sure to be ransacked the 
next day by a band of Turks. With nightfall the cold 
became more piercing. The first Turkish village he came 
to was quite dark. Turkish villages become silent and 
deserted as graveyards as soon as night approaches. The 
only light to be seen was in a grocer's window. But 
Ognianoff did not dare to go in, though he was half starved. 
He pushed on for two hours more, passed through the 
other villages, and at length saw something white and 
glittering before him. It was the stream. He waded 
across with some difficulty and sat down on the opposite 
bank, because the water had chilled his wound and the 
pain was very great. He saw that his heel was swollen, 
and began to be afraid lest inflammation should set in and 
impede his further progress. He rose, pulled up one of 
the reeds growing on the bank, and proceeded to wash the 
wound in the manner he had learnt when he was a member 
of Hajji Dimitr's band. He filled his mouth with water 
which he blew through the reed into the wound. Having 
repeated this several times, he bound the place up tightly, 
and pushed towards the Sredna Gora, on the spurs of which 
he was already. The darkness increased every minute. 
Ognianoff was making for Ovcheri, but seemed to be 
getting no nearer. At last he saw he must have missed the 
path : he found himself in a labyrinth of bushes. He 



118 UNDER THE YOKE 

stopped in despair and listened. He was now high up in 
the Sredna Gora. A dull murmur of human voices reached 
his ears. As he conjectured, there could be no one there 
at that hour but charcoal-burners ; indeed, he could dis- 
tinguish a shght red flame. But were they Bulgarians or 
Turks ? He was half stunned, frozen, and exhausted ; if 
they were Christians there was some hope of assistance 
from them. He mounted a Httle higher and then saw 
clearly their fire close by : he made his way towards it. 
Through the bushes he could now distinguish human forms 
by the fire, and his ear caught a few Bulgarian words. 
How should he disclose himself ? He was covered with 
blood. His appearance might scare these Bulgarians into 
flight, or have even worse consequences for him. There 
were three of them — one was lying covered over, the other 
two were talking by the fire. On one side a pack-horse, 
half -laden, was grazing. Ognianoff strained his ears to 
listen to the conversation. 

*' Put on some more wood, there's no time for talking. 
I'll get out a little hay for the mare," said the elder of the 
two, rising. 

" Why, I know that voice, that's Nencho, the son of old 
Ivan, of Verigovo," said Ognianoff to himself, joyfully. 

Verigovo was a village on the other side of the Sredna 
Gora, which Ognianoff also knew. 

Nencho approached the mare and stooped down to take 
some hay from a goatskin bag. Ognianoff moved towards 
him through the bushes, and said to him : 

" Good evening, Nencho." Nencho started to his feet. 

" Who's there ? " 

*' Don't you know me, Nencho ? " 

The dim glare of the fire lighted up Ognianoff's face. 

" What, is that you, teacher ? Come along, these are all 
our people ; this is our Tsvetian and that's Doichin. Why, 
you're frozen to death — you've lost your way," said the 
peasant, leading Ognianoff to the fire. 

" Tsvetian, put on some more wood. Let's have a good 
fire. Here's a Christian perished with cold : we must warm 
him up. Don't you recognise him ? " 

" What, the teacher ! " cried the boy, gladly. " Wher- 
ever are you from ? " he asked, putting down some dry 
branches for Ognianoff to sit on. 

" God bless you, Tsvetian. Glad to see you." 



THE FUGITIVE 119 

" The devils have wounded him ; but it's not serious, 
thank God," cried Nencho, angrily. 

" Bah ! it's nothing." 

" Father Doichin, get up, here's a friend ! " cried Nencho, 
waking up the sleeper. 

Soon there was a big fire blazing before them. The 
charcoal-burners looked pityingly and sympathetically at 
OgnianofiE's pale face, as he briefly recounted his adventures. 
He soon felt the beneficent effect of the fire. His frozen 
limbs began to thaw and the pain from his wound 
decreased. Father Doichin drew from his ragged bag a 
hunch of bread and an onion, and gave them to Boicho. 

" That's all I can give you, it's the only food we've got. 
But as for warmth, thank God, we're better off than the 
Sultan. Fall to, teacher." 

Ognianoff felt better every moment. His being was filled 
with a new and inexpressible comfort. That bright golden 
fire cheered him up, the hospitable wood round him, the 
rough but kindly faces that looked so friendly, the hard, 
toil-stained hands stretched out to him in true Bulgarian 
hospitality, however humble — all this awoke a strong 
emotion within him. But for his wound Ognianoff would 
have sung aloud for joy. 

At dawn Nencho, leading the horse, on which rode 
Ognianoff, was already knocking at a door at Verigovo. 
The dogs barked and Father Marin at once appeared. 
The unusually early hour told him some visitor out of the 
common had arrived. 

After a word of greeting, Nencho gave the necessary 
explanations. 

" May God cut off the heathens, root and branch ; may 
dogs devour them ; may the devil take their souls," cried 
Father Marin, as he gently helped down Ognianoff, who 
had suffered much from the jolting. 

They took him into a remote room in the house, where 
Ognianoff had once before spent the night. Old Marin 
looked carefully at the wound and bound it up. 

" I'll cure you as I would a sick dog," said he. 

Soon the patient fell into a sound slumber. 



120 UNDER THE YOKE 

CHAPTER XXI : AT VERIGOVO 

Ognianoff's convalescence went on satisfactorily, though 
not quite so fast as Father Marin had promised. The 
hospitable family was quite devoted to the sufferer, to 
alleviate whose pain everything was done. His only 
doctor was Father Marin, who knew something about 
surgery, while Marin's old wife surpassed herself daily by 
some new triumph of the culinary art. Casks of the 
white wine of the Sredna Gora seemed always forth- 
coming ; every morning a chicken hopped headless about 
the courtyard, and eventually appeared at Ognianoff's table, 
he alone being able to enjoy this good cheer, as the Advent 
fasts were now being observed with the strictness usual 
among members of the Orthodox Greek Church. 

Three weeks passed by during which Ognianoff improved 
daily, thanks to the unflagging attention and care bestowed 
upon him by the Bulgarian household. But he was tortured 
by an impatient desire to know what had happened at Bela 
Cherkva — ^how Rada was, what his friends were doing, and 
how the cause he had worked for so arduously was progress- 
ing. He entreated old Marin to send some one to make 
inquiries, but the old man would not hear of it. 

" No, I'll send no one ; I'm going myself next week to 
buy one or two things against the feast. You must wait till 
then, my son. You keep quiet and you'll be well all the 
sooner. God's merciful." 

" But I'll be able to go myself next week." 
" Do you think I'U let you ? That's my business ; I'm 
your doctor, and you've got to ask my leave," replied the 
old man with paternal severity. 

" But let them send word to Rada that I am safe." 

*' She knows you're safe, since the Turks haven't got 

you." 

And Ognianoff had to content himseH with this. 

A few faithful villagers were allowed to come and see 
him : they had obtained the old man's leave after many 
prayers. Their simple souls thirsted for the " teacher's " 
inflammatory speeches ; whenever they left him their faces 
were flushed and their eyes bright. Ognianoff's most 
frequent visitor was Pope Yosif , the President of the local 
Revolutionary Committee. He had already been elected 
voivode leader) of the future insurrection, and kept his wand 



AT VERIGOVO 121 

of office concealed among the church vestments. Another 
was Father Mina, the old schoolmaster. Ognianoff was 
convinced that, except these few and old Marin's family, 
no one else in the whole village knew his secret. Mean- 
while he noticed with surprise that his table was more 
bountifully provided every day : fried chickens, eggs 
cooked in butter, rice with milk, pastry, even wild duck and 
hares were supplied him ; wines of different kinds appeared 
daily. This lavishness annoyed him ; he began to be 
ashamed of the expense he was causing. One day in the 
courtyard he observed that the fowl-house was empty. He 
said to Father Marin : 

" Father Marin, you're ruining yourself. Unless you come 
to your senses I shall refuse all your dainties and send to the 
grocer's for bread and cheese — that's quite enough for me." 

" Don't you bother whether I'm ruining myself or not. 
I'm your doctor and know how you're to be treated, so 
does my wife. Don't you interfere." 

And Ognianoff, much moved, said no more. 

He did not know that the whole village was contributing 
to feast their beloved " Daskal." * The secret was kept in 
common, yet treachery was out of the question, so great 
was his popularity now. The report that he had accounted 
for two bullies had raised him high in favour even with the 
most indifferent. Heroism is of all virtues the one that 
strikes the public fancy the most. 

However Ognianoff's wound healed but slowly, and his 
hot and impetuous nature was perforce condemned to inac- 
tivity : he was tortured by anxiety. Of all his visitors he 
found most reUef in his conversations with good old Mina : 
the two were together daily for some hours, and Boicho 
could not do without him. Father Mina was a relic of the 
past, the last survivor probably of that extinct race of 
teachers whose only books were their memory and the 
psalter, and who had opened the famous cellar-schools of 
Bulgaria. He had now completed his seventieth year, and 
was a grey-headed, broad, burly peasant dressed in the old- 
fashioned wide knickerbockers. After a long and active 
life he had found a haven of rest in that quiet village where 
he was finishing his days. He had outhved his generation, 
his old-world learning was of no use at the present day, his 
only occupation was to sing, without remuneration, in the 
* " Teacher," a corruption of the Greek 5t5c£<r/ca\os. 



122 UNDER THE YOKE 

church choir : there, at least, modern education had not 
penetrated. On holidays the villagers gathered round him 
and hstened with attention to his ever-attractive stories, 
which were, like prophecies, intermingled with scraps of 
Scripture. Ognianoff was delighted with the reminiscences 
of this aged worker, the living relic of a past epoch. When 
a man is in affliction, be it moral or physical, his soul turns 
to reUgion ; he finds at once a consolation in the words of 
the great book. It assuages his pain like a magic balsam. 
Ognianoff was now^ for the first time experiencing the 
soothing effects of the Scriptural language which the old man 
mingled with his own. When he was first brought to the 
sick-bed, old Mina said sorrowfully : 

" Yet another Christian victim — more innocent blood 
shed ! How long, O Lord, shall the adversary reproach ? 
. . . Why withdrawest Thou Thy right hand ? Arise, 
Lord, judge ! Lift up Thy hands against the haughty at 
last." 

And he greeted him and inquired into his case with warm 
interest. But when Ognianoff in turning round groaned 
from the sharp pain caused by the movement, he said 
pityuigly : 

" Keep still, my son : Blessed are they that mourn, for 
they shall be comforted." 

" Ah ! Father Mina, we are fated to suffer ; it's not for 
nothing they call us apostles," said Ognianoff with a^mile. 

" Yours is a hard lot in this world, teacher — a hard lot ; 
but it's glorious and praiseworthy, for God Himself has 
chosen you to serve the nation. Ye are the light of the 
world : a city that is set upon a hill cannot be hidden. Did 
not Christ say to the holy apostles : The harvest truly is 
great, but the workers are few. Go your ways : I send you 
as lambs among the wolves." 

These simple words imparted a sweet comfort and joy 
into Ognianoff's soul. He begged the old man to give him 
a few sacred books to read : Mina brought him the Psalms. 
Ognianoff began with ardour to read those inspired com- 
positions, which are the source of such lofty poesy. These 
songs of battle, of despairing lamentation, and impassioned 
prayer awoke a response in him. The Psalms of David 
never left him. 

At last, in process of time. Father Marin went to Bela 
Cherkva. Ognianoff awaited his return with feverish 



AT VERIGOVO 123 

excitement. He was filled with forebodings of the gloomiest 
description. It was now more than a month since he had 
any news of those who were dearest to him. What had 
become of Rada ? After his flight to what sufferings, to 
what persecutions had she not been exposed on his account ? 
She was left alone to face the contumely of society, perhaps 
even the vengeance of the authorities. Poor girl, she was 
not fated to be happy with him. The poor child w^s left 
exposed once more to the attacks of fate, foiled in her most 
cherished wishes, and perhaps overwhelmed by the con- 
tempt of public opinion. Men's cruelty would impute her 
devotion to him as a crime, and make her atone by many a 
bitter pang for the short-lived joys her love for him had 
given her. And he was not there to console her, to defend 
the poor weak child. 

Plunged in these dark thoughts he hailed old Mina's 
appearance with joy. At least there was some one to open 
out his soul to. Old Mina listened to him with sympathy. 

" Hope — hope in God, teacher," said he. "Do not 
despair : the All-seeing will not desert the suffering who 
trust in His mercy. They who put their trust in the Lord 
shall see Zion. The Lord will in no wise desert the sinner 
who repenteth. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." 

As though in fulfilment of these words of comfort, the 
door opened and old Marin entered. 

Ognianoff, trembling with excitement, tried to read his 
news in his face. 

" Grood evening — wait a bit, teacher — I'll tell you all 
about it. You're not too tired, are you ? " said he, taking 
off his heavy cloak. 

" Those city people of yours are a funny lot," added 
Marin ; " they're Uke shadows — there's no getting hold of 
them." 

" Didn't you go straight to the doctor ? " 

" He's arrested." 

" Well, the deacon at the monastery ? " 

" The deacon's in hiding." 

" Did you find old Stoyan ? " 

" God have mercy upon him. ! Poor fellow, he died the 
night they arrested him, from the beating he got. They say 
he told them the whole story, under torture." 

" Oh ! poor Father Stoyan ! But Rada, Rada ? " 

" I wasn't able to see her." 



124 UNDER THE YOKE 

" Why ? — what's become of her ? " He grew pale. 

" She's there all right — don't you fret yourself ; but 
they've turned her out of the school." 

*' What ! Is she living with the nuns under the thumb of 
Sister Hajji Rovoama ? " cried Ognianoff, uneasily. 

" No, the nun turned her out, too, without mercy." 

" My God — she must be starving in the streets ! " 

" No — Chorbaji Marko has put her to live with a relation 
of his, but I couldn't find the house, and my mates were in 
a hurry. But I heard she was all right." 

" Ah ! that Marko's a good soul — there's no repaying 
what he's done for me. But what do they say about me ? " 

" About you ? Why they've all got some other name for 
you. I couldn't make out what they were at." 

" What ? the Count." 

" That's it — the Count. They all say the Count was shot 
in the Ahievo thicket by sportsmen." 

" Well, that's true enough." 

" Not quite, though, because here you are alive, while 
they all think you're dead, and so much the better, say I." 

Ognianoff started as if a serpent had stung him. 

" What ? and does she think-me dead, too ? Is the poor 
girl to have that sorrow as well ? " 

He leapt across the room as though to start off at once. 

" Sit still, will you — ^you'll only open your wound 
again." 

" I can walk quite well now," said Ognianoff with a 
determined air. 

" And where are you going to walk to, pray ? " asked old 
Marin astounded. 

" Why, to Bela Cherkva." 

" Are you mad ? " 

" Not yet ; but I shall be if I stop here another day. 
Get me out my clothes. Perhaps you'll lend me your 
horse ? " 

Old Marin knew Ognianoff's obstinacy : he did not even 
attempt to restrain him. 

" You can take the clothes and the horse too. Only 
I'm sorry for the sake of your youths" he said earnestly. 
" Every road's patrolled half a dozen times a day ; there's 
no end to their raids and researches ; do have some regard 
for yourseK." 

" Don't you trouble about me. I'll come back to you 



AN AWKWARD PREDICAMENT 125 

safe and sound as a hawk — ^provided you'll take me in 
again," said Ognianoff, half in jest. 

The old man cast a dark look at him. 

" No ; I won't let you go," he cried, " not if I rouse the 
whole village, and keep you back by force. We want you 
here — you're like the Holy Communion to us — and you 
want to go, for them to kill you. Do you suppose I'm 
going to have it said afterwards, 'Old Marin let Daskal 
Boicho, our apostle, go to his death ' ? " 

" Not so loud, Father Marin — they'll hear you outside," 
observed Ognianoff. 

Old Mina smiled under his moustache. 

And Marin's face became suddenly hilarious. 

Ognianoff looked at them with surprise. His last words 
really seemed to have amused them. 

" What are you laughing at ? " he asked. 

" Why, God bless you, teacher, what are you afraid of ? 
The whole village, down to the very children, know you're 
here. We've all been taking our share of your keep. 
We're simple folk, but we won't betray a Christian. And as 
for you — why, we'd sell our lives for you ! " 

This time it was Ognianoff's turn to laugh when he learnt 
that the whole village was in the secret. 

After much debate, Ognianoff overcame the scruples of 
his host, and his departure was decided on. 

CHAPTER XXII : AN AWKWARD PREDICAMENT 
An hour later a Turk — or, to be more accurate, a Turkish 
priest — rode out of the village of Verigovo. 

A faded green turban, in rags, covered his forehead 
almost to the eyes ; the nape of his neck was carefully 
shaved ; his waistcoat of printed calico, open at the throat, 
had lost nearly all its buttons ; a tattered jacket with hang- 
ing sleeves was thrown over his shoulders ; the greasy 
leather belt round his waist contained a flintlock pistol, a 
short ramrod, a Sopot yataghan, and a chibouk ; on his feet 
he wore a pair of slippers, frayed and torn, over which were 
strapped Seimen sandals, and his costume was completed 
by a worn-out cloak of the native shayak, reaching to his 
feet. 

Ognianoff was thus quite unrecognisable. 

Winter had now thoroughly set in : the ground was 



126 UNDER THE YOKE 

covered with a deep sheet of snow, from under which the 
rocky peaks of the Stara Planina rose black and jagged. 
All nature was silent and mournful : nothing living could be 
seen save the huge flocks of crows that flew croaking 
through the drowsy air. 

The straight path to Bela Cherkva was towards the north- 
east : however, Ognianoff avoided it, for it led through 
Yemeksiz Pehlivan's village, which inspired him with in- 
voluntary terror. His mind dwelt on the dead man's grey- 
hound, into which the malignant hostility of the Turk 
seemed to have passed, so as to pursue and terrify Ognianoff 
even from the grave. Hence he determined to strike to the 
north, and make for the inn at Kamara, from whence he 
would cross the spurs of the Stara Planina eastwards, and 
thus reach Bela Cherkva. This would considerably lengthen 
his journey, but the danger would be less, though he would 
still have to pass through Turkish villages. When Ognianofl 
reached the first village the snow was falling in thick flakes, 
and entirely blocking the traveller's view. The intense cold 
had quite numbed his limbs — he could scarcely hold his 
horse's rems ; indeed, the animal had been guided to the 
village more l3y instinct than anything else, for no trace of 
the path was to be seen under the snow. He entered the 
deserted streets of the village unnoticed — not a soul was 
visible anywhere — and made his way to the only inn of the 
place, opposite the mosque. He was anxious to rest his 
horse, which was much exhausted by the journey, and also 
to warm himself a little. A boy came out and took charge 
of his horse : meanwhile, he made for the door of the inn, 
which seemed to be quite empty, as not a sound was to be 
heard. But no sooner had he entered than he saw with 
surprise that the room was full of Turks. To retreat was 
clearly out of the question. He decided to sit down, and 
greeted the whole company : his salute was courteously 
returned. He had lived long among Turks and was 
thoroughly conversant with their language and customs. 
The guests were all reclining on the matting on the floor, 
with their slippers ofl and their pipes in their hands. The 
room was dense with tobacco-smoke. 

" A cup of coffee," he said sternly to the cafeji. 

He proceeded to roll a cigarette, bending over it as he 
did so, so as to conceal his features as much as possible. 
While he sipped his coffee he listened attentively to the 



AN AWKWARD PREDICAMENT 127 

conversation going on in a low tone round him. For a time 
there was nothing to interest him : suddenly he pricked up 
his ears, the death of the two bullies had come under dis- 
cussion. Such an event had never been heard of before in 
the neighbourhood, and the Turks were infuriated by it. A 
sudden excitement took possession of the company in the 
cafe, which had till then been so quiet and phlegmatic. 
Angry abuse and bloody threats were uttered against the 
Bulgarians. Ognianoff continued to sip his coffee with a 
fierce fro\^Ti as a sign that he shared the general dissatisfac- 
tion. Suddenly the conversation turned on the slayer of 
the two Turks, and he saw to his surprise how well-kno\^Ti 
his own name and person were : there were already legends 
current about him. 

" This ghiaour of a Consul is not to be found or recog- 
nised anywhere," said one of those present. 

" He's got a devil who helps him : one minute he appears 
as a teacher, the next as a priest ; to-day he's a peasant, 
the next day a Turk — he changes his appearance in a 
moment. From an old man he becomes a boy — one day 
he's short and dark — next day he's as tall as a lamp-post, 
and has red hair. He's not to be caught. Ahmed Aga 
was telling me they once got on his track and sent a 
patrol after him into the thicket by the monastery ; he 
was dressed in peasant's clothes. Well, suddenly they saw 
a crow before them, nothing else, no peasant or any 
one. Everybody fired," but the bird flew quietly off 
with a loud croak." 

" That's nonsense," said several. 

" The ghiaour must be caught — only we've got to find 
his nest first," said another. 

" I tell you the cuckold can't be found," added the first 
speaker. " I don't believe he's in hiding at all — only find 
him if you can. Why, he might be here now in this very 
cafe, and we none the wiser." 

At these words, every one mechanically raised his eyes 
and looked round him. Some inquisitive glances were 
directed at Ognianoff. 

The latter was now furiously sipping his third cup of 
coffee, and emitting every now and then a thick cloud of 
smoke which half concealed him from view. But he felt 
the searching looks that were fixed on him and drops of 
perspiration rose behind his turban. He could no longer 



128 UNDER THE YOKE 

endure the tension of such a situation, and was eager to 
leave the cafe and breathe the fresh air outside. 

" Where are you bound for, if fate wills it ? " some one 
asked him. 

" For Klissoura, inshallah," answered Ognianoff, quietly, 
unrolling a long twisted purse to pay his score. 

" What, in this snow and storm ? You'd better stop 
here, you'll get there to-morrow." 

" To the traveller the road — to the frog the marsh," 
answered Ognianoff with a smile. 

" These stories of yours are old women's tales, Rahman 
Aga — your ghiaour's no devil or crow, but a ' Komita ' 
like every other ' Komita.' " 

" Well, you catch him then." 

" So we will — we've scented his nest." 

" If we could only get hold of him," cried several with 
looks of bloodthirsty ferocity. 

" I'll stake my head on it that either to-day or to-morrow 
the Komita Boicho will be in the trap." 

" Where are they looking for the dog ? " 

" He's hidden in some ghiaour village of the Sredna 
Gora where he's found a warm nest. Yesterday some 
zapties started for Bania and others for the Abrashlar 
fields — we'll get him." 

" Are you after him too ? " 

" Yes. We're to meet at Verigovo and begin the search 
there." 

It was then only that Ognianoff noticed that the speaker 
was a zaptie — ^he had not observed him in the corner. The 
discovery of his narrow escape from Verigovo increased his 
dismay. Their suspicious glances fell, but the cafe was 
unendurable. He saluted the guests and went out. 

When he was once more outside in the fresh air, at 
liberty under the snowy sky, he took a deep breath of 
relief, and leaped on his horse. 



CHAPTER XXIII : THE SEWING-PARTY AT 
ALTINOVO 

Instead of making for Bela Cherkva, Ognianoff now turned 
back towards Altinovo, a village which lay in the western 
comer of the valley. It was a two hours' journey, but his 
horse was exhausted and the road was bad, so that he only 



THE SEWING-PARTY AT ALTINOVO 129 

just reached the village before dark, pursued right up to the 
outskirts by the famished howls of the wolves. • 

He entered by the Bulgarian quarter (the village was a 
mixed one, containing both Turks and Bulgarians) and 
soon stopped before old Tsanko's door. 

Tsanko was by birth a native of Klissoura, but had long 
ago taken up his abode in the village. He was a simple, 
kmdly peasant and a warm patriot. The apostles often 
slept at his house. He received Ognianoff with open arms. 

" It is a piece of luck your coming to me. We've got 
a sewing -party on to-night — you can have a good look at 
our girls. You won't find the time heavy on your hands, 
I'll be bound," said Tsanko with a smile, as he showed the 
way in. 

Ognianoff hastened to tell him that he was being pursued, 
and for what reason. 

" Yes, yes, I know all about it," said Tsanko, " you don't 
suppose just because our village is a bit out of the way that 
we know nothing of what goes on outside ? " 

" But sha'n't I be putting you out ? " 

" Don't you mind, I tell you. You must look out among 
the girls to-night for one to carry the flag," laughed Tsanko, 
" there — you can see them all from this window, like a 
king." 

Ognianoff was in a small, dark closet, the window of 
which, covered with wooden treUis-work, looked on to the 
large common room ; here the se^dng-party was already 
assembling. It was a meeting of the principal girls of the 
village, the object being to assist in making the trousseau 
for Tsanko's daughter Donka. The fire burned brightly 
and lighted up the walls, which boasted no ornament save 
a print of St. Ivan of Rilo and the bright, glazed dishes on 
the shelves . The furniture — as in most well-to-do villagers' 
houses — consisted of a water-butt, a wardrobe, a shelf, and 
the great cupboard which contained all Tsanko's household 
goods. All the guests, both male and female, were seated 
on the floor, which was covered with skins and carpets. 
Besides the light of the fire there were also two petroleum 
lamps burning — a special luxury in honour of the occasion. 

It was long since Ognanioff had been present at a 
gathering of this kind — a curious custom sanctioned by 
antiquity. From his dark recess he watched with interest 
the simple scenes oL the still primitive village life. The 



130 UNDER THE YOKE 

door opened, and Tsanko's wife came to him — she was a 
buxom and talkative dame, also from Klissoura. She sat 
down by Ognianoff's side and began to point out to him the 
most remarkable girls present, with the necessary details. 

" Do you see that fat, rosy-cheeked girl there ? That's 
Staiika Chonina. See what a sad, sad look Ivan Kill-the- 
Bear gives her now and again. He barks for her like a 
sheep-dog when he wants to make her laugh. She's very 
industrious, quick-witted, and cleanly. Only she ought to 
marry at once, poor girl — she's getting so fat ; she'll be 
thinner after marriage. It's just the opposite of your town- 
girls. The girl to the left of her is Tsveta Prodanova : she 
is in love with the lad over there, with his moustache 
sticking out Hke a skewer. She's a lively one for you — 
see her eyes in every comer of the room at once ; but 
she's a good girl. That's Draganoff's Tsveta by her side ; 
and next to her Raika, the Pope's daughter. I'd rather 
have those two than twenty of your fine ladies from 
Phihppopolis. Do you see their white throats, just like 
ducks ? Why, I once caught my Tsanko saying he'd give 
his vineyard at Mai Tepe, just to be allowed to kiss one of 
them on the chin ! Didn't I just box his ears for him, the 
vagabond ! Do you see that girl to the right of fat 
Staika ? That's Kara VeUo's daughter : she's a great 
swell ; five young fellows have already been after her, but 
her father wouldn't have anything to say to them. He's 
keeping her for somebody, the old weasel — you know he 
looks just Hke a weasel. Ivan Nedelioff '11 have her, or I'll 
bite my tongue out. There's Rada Milkina : she sings like 
the nightingale on our plum-tree — but she's a lazybones, 
between ourselves. I'd rather have Dimka^ Todorova, 
standing over there by the shelf : there's a blooming rose 
for you ! If I was a bachelor I'd propose to her at once. 
Why don't you take her yourself ? That's the Peeff's girl 
standing by our Donka. She's a pretty girl, and industrious 
into the bargain — so they say she's as good as our Donka. 
She's got a sweet voice, hke Rada Milkina, and laughs like 
a swallow twittering ; you listen to her." 

As she stood there by Boicho in the dark, she reminded 
him of the scene in the " Divina Commedia," where 
Beatrice, at the gate of hell, points out to Dante one by one 
the condemned, and tells him their history. 

Ognianofi! listened more or less attentively : he was 



THE SEWING-PARTY AT ALTINOVO 131 

entirely absorbed by the picture, and oared little for the 
explanations. The bolder among the girls jested with the 
lads, flirted with them archly, and laughed merrily the 
while. They were answered by the deep guffaws of the 
youths, who looked shyly across at the weaker sex. Jests, 
taunts, and chaff followed in one continual flow : loud 
laughter was called forth by jokes with a double meaning, 
which sometimes brought the hot blush to the girls' cheeks. 
Tsanko alone took part in the merry-making. His wife 
was busy with the stew-pan, where the supper was preparing. 
As for Donka, she couldn't stay still for a moment. 

" Come, you've chaffed each other enough now ; suppose 
you give us a song," cried the housewife, as she left Boicho 
and returned to her saucepans on the fire. " Now, then, 
Rada, Stanka, sing something and put the young men to 
shame. Young men are not worth a brass button nowa- 
days : they can't sing." 

Rada and Stanka did not wait to be asked twice. They 
at once began a song which was taken up by all those 
girls who could sing ; these at once formed into two 
choruses : the first sang one verse, and then waited while 
the second repeated it. The better singers were in the first 
choir, which consisted of alto voices, the others repeating 
the verse in a lower key. 

The following are the words of the song they sang : 

" Well-a-day ! the youthful couple ; well-a-day ! they fell in 

love ; 
Well-a-day I in love they'd fallen ; well-a-day ! from 

earliest youth. 
Well-a-day ! they met each other ; well-a-day ! last night 

they met. 
Well-a-day ! all in the darkness ; well-a-day ! just down 

the street. 
Well-a-day ! the silver moonlight ; well-a-day ! shone down 

on them. 
Well-a-day ! the stars were twinkling ; well-a-day ! within 

the sky. 
Yet, well-a-day ! the youthful couple ; well-a-day ! they're. 

sitting still. 
Well-a-day / yes, still they're sitting ; well-a-day ! in loving 

talk. 
Well-a-day ! her jug of water ; weU-a-day / it's frozen hard^ 



132 UNDER THE YOKE 

Wdl-a-day ! his oaken cudgel ; well-a-day ! how long it's 

groum. 
But, well-a-day I the youthful couple ; well-a-day ! they're 

sitting yet I " 

When the song came to an end the youths were loud in 
applause : it appealed to every one of them ; its pleasing 
refrain brought up memories of past experience. As for 
Ivan Kill-the-Bear, he was devouring Staika Chonina with 
his eyes ; he was deeply in love with her. 

" That's the kind of song to sing over again — ay, and to 
act all day long," he cried, in his deep bass voice. 

All the girls laughed, and many an arch look was cast at 
Kill-the-Bear. 

He was a perfect mountain of a man, of gigantic stature 
and herculean strength, with a big, bony face, but not over 
bright. However, he was great at singing — that is to say, 
his voice corresponded with his size. He now became 
cross, and withdrew silently behind the girls, where he 
suddenly barked like an old sheep-dog. The girls started 
in terror at first, and then laughed at him, and the bolder 
ones among them began to tease him : one of them sang, 
mockingly : 

" Ivan, you hright-hued turtle-dove, 
Ivan, you slender poplar" 

Another added : 

" Ivan, you shaggy, old she-hear, 
Ivan, you lanky clothes-prop ! '' 

More giggling and laughter followed. Ivan became 
furious. He stared in dumb bewilderment at the rosy- 
cheeked Staika Chonina, who mocked so unkindly her 
fervent adorer ; he opened a mouth like a boa -constrictor's, 
and roared out : 

" Said Peika's aunt one day to her 
' Why, Peika girl ; why, Peika girl, 
The people freely talk of you. 
The people, all the neighbours say. 
That you've become so fat and full, 
That you're so plump and fleshy now. 
All through your uncle's shepherd lad.* 
* Oh Aunty dear, oh darling aunt. 



THE SEWING-PARTY AT ALTINOVO 133 

Let people freely talk of me, 
Let people, all the neighbours say, 
That if Fmfat and fleshy now, 
If Fve become so plump and full, 
Ws from my father's wheaten bread. 
My father's white and wheaten bread ; 
For while I kneed it in the trough, 
A basket-full of grapes I pluck, 
And drink ajar of red, red wine.' " 

Staika blushed at this bitter inuendo ; her red cheeks 
became as fiery as if she had dyed them in cochineal. The 
spiteful giggles of the other girls pierced her to the heart. 
Some, with assumed simpKcity, asked : 

" Why, however can one pick grapes and drink wine at 
the same time ? The song must be all wrong." 

" Why, of course, either the song's wrong or else the girl's 
wrong," answered another. 

This cutting criticism still further enraged Staika. She 
threw a crushing look at the triumphant Ivan, and sang in 
a voice that quivered with rage : 

'' ' Oh Peika, brighter than the poppy 
Is all your needlework so fine 
And all my many many visits 
Are all of these to be in vain ? 
Gome, Peika, won't you have me, dear ? ' 
* Why, Yonko, why, you filthy drudge, 
Could Peika ever fall in love 
With such a swine-herd as yourself ; 
A swine-herd, and a cattle drover — 
Some wealthy farmer's filthy drudge ; 
She'd put you down before the door, 
The little door behind the house ; 
That, when she passes in and out, 
To fetch the calves and heifers in. 
If she should chance to soil her shoes, 
She'd wipe them clean upon your back." 

It was a crushing repartee to a savage attack. 

Staika now looked proudly round her. Her shaft had 
struck home. Ivan Kill-the-Bear stood motionless, as if 
transfixed, with staring eyes. A loud peal of laughter 
greeted his discomfiture. The whole party was gazing 



134 UNDER THE YOKE 

curiously at him. Tears started to his eyes from very 
shame and wounded vanity. The spectators laughed still 
louder. The mistress of the house became angry. 

" What's the meaning of all this, girls ? Is this the way 
to behave with the lads, instead of being kind and pleasant 
to one another, as you ought to ? Staika — Ivan — you 
ought to be cooing together like a pair of turtle-doves." 

" It's only lovers who quarrel," said Tsanko in a con- 
ciliatory tone. 

Ivan Kill-the-Bear rose and went out angrily, as if to 
protest against these words. 

" Like loves like," averred Neda Liagovitcha. 

" Well, Neda, God loves a good laugher," said Kono 
Goran, Kill-the Bear's cousin. 

" Now, boys, sing us some old haidoud song, to put a 
little life into us," said Tsanko. The lads sang in chorus : 

" Alas for poor Stoyan, alas ! 
Two ambushes they laid for him, 
But in the third they captured him. 
The cruel ropes they've fastened round him — 
They've hound his strong and manly arms. 
Alas ! they've carried poor Stoyan 
To Erin's house, the village Pope. 
Two buxom daughters had the Pope, 
And Bouja, a step-daughter, too : 
But Bouja sat and milked the cow 
Beside the little garden gate, 
While they were sweeping in the yard, 
And gaily cried the sisters twain : 
' Ha ! ha ! Stoyan' they cried to him : 
' To-morrow morn they'll hang you up. 
Before the palace of the king — 
You'll dangle for the queen to see. 
And all the princes and princesses.^ 
But Stoyan softly said to Bouja, 
' Dear Bouja, you the Pope's step-daughter^ 
It's not my life I care about. 
It's not for the bright world I mourn — 
A brave man never weeps or mourns ; 
But yet, I beg you, Bouja dear, 
Oh ! let them put a clean shirt on me. 
And let them brush and deck my hair — 



THE SEWING-PARTY AT ALTINOVO 135 

Thafs all I ask for, Rouja dear. 
For when a man's led out to die, 
His shirt should spotless be, and white. 
His hair should be arrayed and trimJ " 

Ognianofif listened with secret excitement to the close of 
the song. 

" This Stoyan," he thought, " is the very type of the 
legendary Bulgarian haidoud, with his calm courage in 
facing death. Not a word of sorrow, of despair, or even of 
hope. He only wants to die looking his best. Ah ! if this 
heroical fataHsm has only passed into the Bulgarian of 
to-day, I shall be quite easy in mind as to the end of our 
struggle. That's the struggle I seek for — that's the strength 
I want — to know how to die, that's half the battle." 

Just then the kavala, or shepherd's reed-pipes struck up. 
Their sound, at first low and melancholy, swelled gradually 
and rose higher and higher : the eyes of the pipers flashed, 
their faces flushed with excitement, the clear notes rang out 
and filled the night with their weird mountain melody. 
They summoned up the spirit of the Balkan peaks and 
gorges, they recalled the darkness of the mountain glades, 
the rustling of the leaves at noon while the sheep are resting, 
the scent of the corn-flower, the echoes of the rocks, and the 
cool, sweet air of the valleys. The reed-pipe is the harp 
of the Bulgarian mountains and plains. 

All were now listening enchanted as they drank in the 
familiar and friendly sounds of the poetic music. Tsanko 
and his wife, standing with clasped hands by the fire, 
listened as if entranced. But the most affected of all was 
Ognianoff, who could scarcely keep from applauding. 

The brisk conversation and merry laughter soon broke 
out again. But Ognianoff began to listen to what was being 
said, for he heard his name mentioned. Petr Ovcharoff, 
Raichin, Spirdonoff, Ivan Ostenoff, and a few others were 
talking of the coming insurrection. 

" I'm ready for the fun now, I'm only waiting for my 
revolver from Philippopolis. I've sent the money, 170 
piastres. That's the price of three rams," said Petr 
Ovcharoff, the president of the local committee. 

" Yes, but we don't know when the flag's to be raised. 
Some say we shall blood our knives at the Annunciation, 
other's at St. Gregory's Day, and Uncle Bojil says not till 



136 UNDER THE YOKE 

the end of May," said Spirdonoff, a handsome, well-built 
lad. 

" It'll be somewhere about the coming of the cuckoo, 
when the woods are getting green ; but I'm ready now, 
they've only to give the word." 

** Well, well ; our Stara Planina has sheltered many a 
brave fellow before now, it'll shelter us too," said Ivan 
Ostenoff. 

" Petr — didn't you say the teacher had killed two of 
them ? There's a plucky one for you." 

" When's he going to pay us a visit ? I want to kiss the 
hand that polished them off," asked Raichin. 

" He's got a start of us, has the teacher, but we must try 
and catch him up. I know something of the game myself," 
answered Ivan Ostenoff. 

Ivan Ostenoff was a bold youth and a good shot as well. 
Popular rumour ascribed the death of Deli Ahmed last year 
'to him, and the Turks had long tried to get hold of him, 
but so far ineffectually. 

At supper Ognianoff's health was drank. 

" God grant that we may soon see him here safe and 
sound. Take an example from him, boys," said Tsanko, as 
he swallowed his wine. 

" I'll bet any one whatever he likes," said Tsanko's wife 
impatiently, " that teacher'll be here the first thing to- 
morrow, Uke a hawk." 

" What are you talking of, Boulka * Tsanko vitsa — why, 

I'm off to K to-morrow," said Raichin, regretfully. " If 

he comes you must keep him for Christmas, and we'll enjoy 
ourselves together." 

" What's all that noise outside ? " cried Tsanko leaving 
his wine and getting up. 

In truth, men's and women's voices were heard making 
an uproar outside. Tsanko and his wife ran out. The 
guests rose to follow. Just then the mistress of the house 
rushed in, in great excitement, and cried : 

" Well, that business is finished. God prosper it." 

" What ? What ? " - 

" Kill-the-Bear's carried off Staika ! " 

* " Boulka " is the title given to a young or middle-aged wife, who 
on growing old exchanges it for " Baba," grandmother. Both names 
are followed by the feminine derivative from the husband's name, thua 
Tsanko, Tsanko vitsa ; Avram, Avramitsa, 



GOD IS TOO HIGH AND TSAR TOO FAR 137 

Every one started with surprise at the news. 

" Carried her off, he has, the lad, on his shoulder, as you 
would a lamb on St. Gregory's Day ; now, they're at his 
house." 

Her hearers began to laugh. 

" Well, what of it ? That's why he went away so early 
with his Cousin Goran." 

" He laid in wait for her by the door," continued Boulka 
Tsankovitsa, " and carried her off. I'm sorry for them 
both. Who'd have thought it of Kill-the-Bear ? " 

" Well, well, they're a pretty pair," said some one. 

" She's just like a fat little Servian pig, and he's a Hun- 
garian bull," laughed another. 

" God bless 'em both ; we'll drink cherry brandy with 
them to-morrow," said Tsanko. 

'* Yes, and I shall claim my perquisite," said his wife. 
" I must have my embroidered sleeves, because the match 
was arranged at my house." 

Soon after all the guests left in high glee. 



CHAPTER XXIV : GOD IS TOO HIGH AND THE TSAR 
TOO FAR 

Tsanko hastened to Ognianoff in the dark closet. 
'* Well, Boicho, how did you like our party ? " 
** Oh, it was wonderful, dehghtful, Tsanko." 
" Did you take down the words of the songs ? " 
*' How could I ? There's no light to write by." 
In came Tsanko 's wife with a candle in her hand. 
" There's some one knocking at the door," said she. 
" That'll be some one from Staika, most likely. Perhaps 

she wants our Donka to go to her, you must send 

her." 

But Donka came in and said that there were two zapties 

outside, brought by old Deiko, the village mayor. 

" The devil take them, zapties, old Deiko, and all ! 

Where am I to put the swine ? They're not come after 

you," he said to Ognianoff, reassuringly, " but you'd better 

hide. Wife, just show the teacher where to go." 

And Tsanko went out. Soon he brought in the two 

zapties, muffled up in their cloaks, and drenched with snow. 

They were furious. 

*' What do you mean by keeping us an hour at the door, 



138 UNDER THE YOKE 

you cuckold ? " cried the first, a one-eyed zap tie, as he 
shook the snow from his cloak. 

" You left us freezing outside while you were making up 
your mind to open," grumbled the other, a short, stout man. 

Tsanko muttered some excuse. 

" What are you muttering about ? Go and kill a chicken 
for us, and get some eggs fried in butter at once ! " 

Tsanko tried to say something. The one-eyed zaptie 
burst out : 

" None of your talk, ghiaour ; go and tell your wife to 
get supper ready at once. Do you suppose we're going to 

finish up your d d jam tart crumbs and nutshells for 

you ? " he said, with a contemptuous look at the remains of 
the little feast, not yet cleared up. 

Tsanko moved helplessly towards the door to carry out 
his orders. The short one called after him : 

" Stop a minute, what have you done with the girls ? " 

" They went home long ago ; it's late," answered Tsanko, 
trembhng all over. 

" Just you go and fetch them back to have supper with 
us and pour out our raki. What do you mean by sending 
them home ? " 

Tsanko gazed at him in terror. 

" Where's your daughter ? " 

" She's gone to bed, Aga." 

" Make her get up to wait on us," said the one-eyed 
zaptie, taking off his boots to dry them at the fire, while the 
water dripped from them and a cloud of steam rose. 

The mayor just then came in and stood humbly by the 
door. 

" You infernal pig ! you've led us round twenty houses, 
knocking at door after door, like beggars — where have you 
hidden your " 

And he called the girls by a foul epithet. 

The Bulgarians remained silent. They were used to this. 
Centuries of slavery had taught them the proverb, so degrad- 
ing for humanity : " The sword does not strike the bowed 
head." Tsanko only prayed Heaven that they might not 
molest his daughter. 

" Look here," asked the one-eyed zaptie, " are you pre- 
paring for a rebeUion ? " 

Tsanko boldly denied the charge. 

" Well, what's this doing here, then ? " asked the short 



GOD IS TOO HIGH AND TSAR TOO FAR 139 

one, taking up Petr Ovcharoff's long knife, which had been 
forgotten on the floor. 

" Oh ! you're not preparing for a rebeUion, aren't you ? " 
asked the first, with a diabohcal smile. 

" No, Aga, we're peaceful subjects of his Majesty," 
answered Tsanko, trying to keep calm ; " the knife must 
have been left behind by one of the guests." 

'' Whose is it ? " 

" I don't know." 

The zap ties began examining the blade, which was 
engraved with letters inlaid with gold, surrounded by a 
fancy pattern. 

" What do these letters mean ? " they asked Tsanko. 

He looked at the knife : on one side there was a wreath 
of flowers engraved, towards the blunt edge, containing the 
words " Liberty or Death " ; the other side bore the 
owner's name. 

" It's only an ornament," said Tsanko. 

The one-eyed zapti6 struck him in the face with his 
muddy boot. 

" Ghiaour ! Do you suppose I'm blind because I've got 
only one eye ? " 

Tsanko 's reply had aroused their suspicions. 

" Mayor, just come here." 

The mayor came in with a cake of bread on a brass 
platter, which he was bringing to be baked in Tsanko's 
oven. He trembled when he saw the naked dagger in the 
zaptie's hand. 

" Read this ! " 

The mayor looked at it, and drew himseK up in dismay. 

*' I can't make it out properly, Aga ! " 

The short one took his Circassian whip. The lash hissed 
in the air and curled twice round the mayor's neck. A 
stream of blood flowed from his cheek. 

" You're all a set of traitors." 

The mayor wiped away the blood silently. 

*' Read it out, or I'll stick the knife into your throat ! " 
cried the zaptie. The bewildered mayor saw there was no 
help for it — he must bow before them. 

" Petr Ovcharoff," he read with assumed hesitation. 

" Do you know him ? " 

" He belongs to our village." 

" Is that the fellow they call Petr the shepherd ? " 



140 UNDER THE YOKE 

asked the one-eyed one, who evidently knew a little 
Bulgarian. 

*' Yes, Aga," said the mayor, handing him the knife, with 
a silent prayer of thanksgiving to the Holy Trinity that the 
terrible words on the other side had been passed over. 
But he went too fast. 

" Now see what it says on the other side," said the zaptie. 

The mayor bent in abject terror over the other side. 
He hesitated for some time. But when he saw that the 
short zaptie was getting his whip ready again, he cried : 

" It says, ' Liberty or Death,' Aga." 

The one-eyed zaptie started. " What, liberty, eh ? " he 
said, smiling ominously. " Who is it who makes these 
knives ? Where's Petr the shepherd ? " 

" Where should he be, Aga ? At home, of course." 

" Go and fetch him." 

The mayor moved off. 

" Wait ; I'll come with you, you fool ! ' 

And the short zaptie took up his cloak and went out 
with him. 

*' That's right. Youssouf Aga ; this shepherd seems a 
thorough brigand," said the other. 

Meanwhile, Tsanko passed into the kitchen, where his 
wife was preparing the supper, cursing the Turks as she 
did so : " May God destroy them — may He cut them off 
root and branch — may the pestilence fall on them and rot 
their bones — ^may they die of poison ! To think that I 
should be cooking meat and butter for them just before 
Christmas ! What brought the accursed heathen here, to 
terrify and destroy us ? " 

*' Donka, dear," said Tsanko to his daughter, who stood, 
pale and terrified, at the door, " you'd better slip out by 
the back way, and go and sleep at your uncle's." 

" And what does Deiko mean by bringing them here 
again ? It was only last week he brought us two," mur- 
mured his wife. 

'* What's he to do, poor fellow ? " said Tsanko. " He 
took them everywhere. They wanted to come here — 
they'd heard the songs. As it is he's had five or six cuts 
of the whip." 

Tsanko went back to the one-eyed zapti6. 

" Chorbaji, where have you been to ? Just bring a little 
salad and some raki." 



GOD IS TOO HIGH AND TSAR TOO FAR 141 

" The shepherd's not there," cried the short zaptie at 
that moment, as he returned with the mayor. 

" Well, we must find the rascally ' Komita,' if we have to 
turn the whole village upside down," said the one-eyed 
man, drinking. 

" What do you say to giving the old boy another taste 
of the stick ? " asked the short one, in a low voice, adding 
something in a whisper. His comrade winked mth his only 
eye, in assent. 

" Mayor, go and fetch the father here ; we want to ask 
him something — and fill this at the same time," said 
Youssouf Aga, handing him the empty raki bottle. 

" It's too late for that, Aga — ^the shop's shut." 

The only reply was a blow in the face from the one-eyed 
zaptie. He was naturally a Uttle more humane than the 
other, but drink, or the desire for it, maddened him in a 
moment. 

A quarter of an hour afterwards old Stoiko appeared. 
He was about fifty years of age, with a sharp and intelligent 
countenance, expressive of determination and obstinacy. 

" Stoiko, tell me where your son is — ^you know where 
you've hidden him — or it will be the worse for you." 

As the one-eyed zaptie said this, he poured out and 
gulped down a glass of raki. His eye flashed as he did so. 
Then he handed the glass to his comrade. 

" I don't know where he is, Aga," replied the old man. 

" You do, ghiaour ; you know quite well,'* cried the 
zaptie, enraged. 

The old man again repeated his denial. 

" You know, and you'll tell us, or we'll pull out your 
eye-teeth for you ; and if you won't say then, I'll tie you 
behind my horse, and you'll come with us to-morrow," 
roared the infuriated zaptie. 

" You can do what you like to me, I've only got one 
life," answered the old man firmly. 

" Go over there and think it over a little, then we'll talk 
to you again," the one-eyed zaptie said with pretended 
gentleness. Their object was to extract a bribe from old 
Stoiko, to be suggested to him by the mayor. It was 
brigandage of the worst description, but they wished to give 
it the appearance of a voluntary gift ; it was the system 
usually followed in such cases. 

But old Stoiko did not move. 



142 UNDER THE YOKE 

They looked at each other astonished at his firmness, and 
cast ferocious glances at the old man. 

" Did you hear what I said, you old fool ? " cried the 
one-eyed zapti6. 

" I've nothing to think about — let me go home," he 
answered, hoarsely. 

The zapties could not contain themselves. 

*' Mayor, throw the old fool down," cried the one-eyed 
ruffian, seizing his kourbash.* 

The mayor and Tsanko begged for mercy for the old 
man. 

The only reply was a kick which felled Stoiko to the 
ground. 

Then blows followed fast on his body. Old Stoiko 
groaned heavily for some time, then became silent : he had 
fainted ; his forehead was drenched with a cold sweat, he 
was worn out by his day's work. 

They undressed him to bring him to his senses. 

" When he comes to himself, let me know — I'll make 
him si)eak." 

" For God's sake, Hajji Aga, I entreat you, have pity on 
the poor old man, he can't stand any more pain, he'll die," 
said Tsanko, entreatingly. 

" Long live the Sultan, you rebel ! " cried the short zaptie 
in a passion. " You deserve to be hanged yourself for 
harbouring rebels in your house ; you're very likely hiding 
the shepherd here somewhere. Let's search the house ! " 

Tsanko's face fell involuntarily. Although frenzied with 
drink, the zapties saw his confusion. He turned at once to 
the short one : 

" Youssouf Aga, there's something wrong here — let's 
search the ghiaour's house." And he rose. 

" At your service," said Tsanko, hoarsely, showing the 
way with a lantern. 

He led them all over the house, leaving the closet to the 
last. Finally, he lighted them there too. In the blackened 
ceiling there was a trap-door which led to the rafters and so 
outside on to the roof. When it was closed it could not be 
noticed. Tsanko knew that Ognianoff had climbed up 
through it to the rafters and replaced the cover. So he led 
the Turks in with the utmost confidence. His first glance 
was towards the ceiling. 

* Circassian whip. 



GOD IS TOO HIGH AND TSAR TOO FAR 143 

What was his surprise to find the trap-door open ! 

Tsanko remained petrified where he stood. The Turks 
searched the closet. 

" Where does that opening lead to ? " 

" To the rafters," muttered Tsanko. His legs trembled 
under him and he had to cling to the wall for support. 

The short zap tie noticed his terror. 

" Just give a light here while I get up, will you ? " he said ; 
but a sudden thought crossed his mind, and he called to his 
comrade : 

" Hassan Aga, you're taller than I am, get on the mayor's 
back." 

Hassan Aga knew no fear when he had got his skinful ; 
drink made a hero of him. He at once climbed up over 
the mayor's shoulders. 

" Now then, bring the light, confound you ! " 

Tsanko, white as a sheet, handed him the light mechani- 
cally. 

The zapti6 first held the lantern in front of him, then put 
his head within the opening. From the motion of his body 
one could see he was searching with the light on every side. 

At last he reappeared, jumped down, and said : 

" Who is it you've been hiding there ? " 

Tsanko looked blankly at him. He did not know what 
answer to give. He had suffered so much that evening 
that he had almost lost his senses. His thoughts became 
confused ; the question was repeated, he stammered out 
some meaningless reply. 

" The rebel will give a proper answer at Klissoura. 
There's a better prison there : he can stop here for the 
night." 

And the zapties locked him up in the dark and chilly 
closet. 

Tsanko was so overwhelmed with terror and confusion 
that it was some minutes before he could collect his thoughts. 
He clasped his head with both hands, as if to retain his 
presence of mind. He was lacldng in determination, and 
suffering had at once crushed him. He sobbed and groaned 
in despair. 

There was a knock at the door, and Deiko's voice was 
heard : 

" What are you going to do now, Tsanko ? " 
*' I don't know, Deiko. Tell me what's best." 



144 UNDER THE YOKE 

" Come, you know the Turks' weakness. You must give 
them something ; it's the only way to get out of it ; else 
they'll drag you from one court-house to another till you're 
utterly ruined. Poor old Stoiko could have spared himself 
this with a trifle. Give, Tsanko ! give 'em your white silver 
to get off black sorrow." 

His wife came, too, weeping bitterly : 

" Let's give them what we can ! Never mind, Tsanko ; 
it's the only way to get out of the murderers' hands. They've 
killed poor old Stoiko. Dear, dear ! to think I should live 
to see it." 

" But what are we to give, wife ? You know we haven't 
any money." 

" Let's give the necklace ! " 

" What ? Donka's necklace, with the coins ? " 

" Yes, yes ; it's all we have ; it's the only way to get rid 
of them. Why, they're asking for Donka now, the cursed 
brutes." 

" Do what God thinks best, wife. I'm all of a muddle," 
muttered Tsanko from his prison. 

His wife and Deiko went away. 

Soon after a light shone through the chinks in the boards 
of the closet, and the door was unlocked. 

" Come out, Tsanko, you're free," said Deiko. " The 
Agas were good fellows after all. They've given you back 
the knife as well, so there's no cause for fear. You've got 
off cheap." 

And, bending to his ear, he whispered low : 

" It can't last much longer ; either they'll finish us off, or 
we must them. This life can't go on like this." 



CHAPTER XXV : RETRIBUTION 

At that very moment Ognianoff was knocking at Petr 
Ovcharoff's door. He had been unable to endure the 
terrible mental torture caused by the sight of the zap ties' 
savage brutaUty, which he had witnessed through a crack 
in the ceiHng : he had scarcely been able to hold back his 
hand from taking a bloody vengeance on the two ruffians — 
which would, however, have been an act of folly that might 
have had the most serious consequences. Half out of his 
senses, he had climbed his way into the street, and ran 
straight to Old Stoiko's house. 



RETRIBUTION 145 

" Where's Petr ? " he asked, the moment the door was 
opened forgetting that he was in hiding. 

" Why, is that you, teacher ? " asked the poor old mother, 
in tears. 

" Where's your Petr, Mother Stoikovitsa ? " 

" Take care, my son, or they'll overhear you. Petr's at 
Kill-the-Bear's house." 

" And Where's that, mother ? " 

" Next door to the Pope's house — by the new door, if 
you know where that is ; but mind they don't hear, my 
son." 

The poor woman Httle knew that her husband was at 
that moment breathing his last. Ognianoff flew off without 
a minute's delay. As he approached the Pope's door, a 
noisy throng emerged from within. Ognianoff recognised 
Petr's voice. He stopped them. 

" What, the teacher ! " They all recognised him. 

" Yes, it's me, boys — where are you going ? " 

"We've been looking Ivan up," answered Petr; "he 
carried off his girl to-night, and we've been drmking their 
health. You should see them together ; one would think 
they'd been married for years. And when did you turn 
up?" 

" Petr, I've got something to say to you." 

And he took the other aside. 

" Well, good-night, you fellows," said Petr, following 
Ognianoff. They went straight to Stoiko's house. 

" Has father come home yet ? " asked Petr. 

" Not yet, my boy." 

Ognianoff took him into the cellar. 

" Listen to me, Petr. The zapties have beaten your 
father cruelly on your account. They may ill-treat Tsanko 
and his family still more savagely. We can't restrain the 
violence of these brutes, except by force of arms. I might 
have smashed their heads in just now, only I was afraid of 
the consequences. We can't go to Tsanko's house." 

" I must have vengeance — vengeance," cried Petr 
wildly. 

" Yes, and I must have vengeance, and a terrible ven- 
geance, Petr, but it must be without danger for ourselves." 

" How's it to be done ? " asked Petr, taking his gun 
doT^Ti from the wall. 

" Patience, while I think it over.'' 

K 



146 UNDER THE YOKE 

" I can't stop to think ; I must go and see what they're 
doing to my father." 

Ognianoff, himself much excited, had now to strive to 
restrain a man still more excited than himself from taking a 
natural but fatal step. If Petr went to Tsanko's house 
blood would flow. Ognianoff was of opinion that the hour 
for the decisive struggle had not yet come. It seemed to 
him a pity that so bold and resolute a warrior should fall 
prematurely and uselessly. 

But his efforts were in vain. Petr roared like a tiger : 

" I must avenge my father, if the whole world goes to rack 
and ruin." 

He struggled fiercely with Ognianoif, broke from him, 
and rushed to the door. 

Ognianoff tore his hair in despair. He was powerless to 
resist the other's violent impulse. 

But before Petr could get to the door a knock came 
from outside. He put down his gun to open. Three 
Bulgarians, Tsanko's neighbours, were carrying in on a rug 
old Stoiko, or rather his body. 

" Petr, my poor boy, God keep you from harm," * said 
one of the peasants. 

The courtyard was filled with the weeping and lamenta- 
tion of the women. The poor old mother was tearing her 
clothes and flinging herself on her husband's cold corpse. 
Ognianoff seized Petr, who was quite overwhelmed by this 
misfortune, and forced him into the cellar again ; with tears 
in his eyes he strove to keep him back, for after the momen- 
tary shock caused by the sight of his father, Petr was now 
clamouring more frantically than ever for vengeance. 

" We must avenge him, brother — we must avenge him," 
cried Ognianoff, clasping him with both arms. " You and 
I have now no more sacred duty than to avenge him." 

" Blood, blood ! " raved Petr, frenzied with rage. " Oh, 
father, father ! they've broken your poor old bones, the 
villains ! What will my poor mother do now ? " 

" Stop, my poor fellow ; try and restrain yourself ; 
be calm. We'll take a terrible vengeance on the 
murderers ! " 

Half an hour afterwards the violence of the crisis calmed 
down, for even the fiercest moral sufferings decrease in 

* The usual Oriental form of condolence when some fatal mishap has 
befallen a member of the family. 



RETRIBUTION 147 

time. Petr consented to remain at home, after making 
Ognianoff, Ostenoff, and Spirdonoff swear before the eikon 
that they would not leave the zapties alive. 

" To think that Kill-the-Bear must go and choose to- 
night to get married," grumbled Ostenoff . " We might have 
done some good if we'd had him with us. Just our luck." 

The plan of attack was the following : — They would lie 
in wait on the road that led westward to the pass of Lesko- 
vits by the road to KJissoura. They chose for their ambush 
the thickly wooded valley through which the river Belesh- 
titsa flows just before it joins the Strema. They would 
wait for the Turks there and atta^ck them with their knives, 
after which they would strip them and hide the bodies in 
the thicket. But so as to prevent all possibility of their 
victims' escape, they would take their guns with them ; 
these, however, they would use only in the last extremity, 
on account of the danger of attracting attention by the 
noise. The plan was based on information obtained as to 
the departure of the zapties. They had given orders to 
be woke up before dawn, as at the second cock-crow they 
were to leave for KUssoura. 

At the first cock-crow the little band started from the 
silent village and made for the fields. Snow was falHng 
heavily. The whole path was covered with a white shroud. 
This enabled them to see their way in the dark. The 
adventurous party, with their guns concealed beneath their 
cloaks, tramped silently over the deep snow which threw its 
pall over everything. Not the slightest sound was heard ; 
one would have taken them for the nightly ghosts and 
vampires supposed by popular superstition to abound about 
Christmas time. The snow fell continuously, and deep 
drifts formed in the ditches, seriously delaying the march of 
the travellers, who, however, did not even notice them. 
They were absorbed by one thought — vengeance. The cries 
of Petr, their valiant comrade, and the lamentations of his 
mother and the neighbours still rang in their ears. They 
had only one fear : lest the zapties should escape them — all 
other emotions were put aside. For a long time they went 
on without a word being uttered. Suddenly they heard 
behind them a loud barking which broke the silence of the 
night. They turned round in surprise. 

" Where can there be dogs this weather ? " asked 
Boicho. 



148 UNDER THE YOKE 

" It's very strange," said Spirdonoff, uneasily. 

The barking was repeated still louder, and soon they 
saw, under the trees, a great black figure leaping and 
bounding towards them. The figure was not in the least 
like a dog : it resembled rather some monster, some gigantic 
bear erect on its hind legs. 

Boicho and Spirdonoff instinctively stopped at the foot of 
an oak tree and prepared to defend themselves against this 
unkno^vn assailant. At that moment it leaped towards 
them. 

" Ivan Kill-the-Bear ! ' they all cried, simultaneously. 

" Yes, it's me, you've forgotten me, God bless my soul." 

It really was Kill-the-Bear in his cloak. The moment he 
had heard the uproar in the street he had gone to Petr 
and learnt the whole business from him. Without a 
minute's delay he had returned to his house, sent his bride 
home to her mother, stuck his axe in his belt, seized his 
gun, and hurried off to join the band and take part in the 
vengeance. 

This powerful addition to their band gave them fresh 
courage. " Let's move on now," said Ostenoff. 

"Forward," added Ognianoff. 

" Stop a bit, wait for the other one," added Kill-the- 
Bear. 

" What other one ? who else is there ? " they asked with 
surprise. 

" Why, Petr's young brother Daniel, he's come with me." 

" What did you bring him f or ? " 

" Oh ! Petr sent him, so that his brother might see what 
happened with his own eyes." 

" What ! didn't he trust us ? we'd taken the oath ! " 

" A hundred oaths go to the piastre. I don't trust you 
myself." 

" What do you mean ? " 

" Why, you went off without Kill-the-Bear, God bless his 
soul." 

The last was an ejaculation Kill-the-Bear used at nearly 
every word. It expressed his thoughts and feelings much 
more accurately than any other words he could have 
thought of. 

" Don't be angry, Ivan," said Ostenoff ; "we thought of 
you too, but you've just been married." 
''Ah! here's Daniel ! " 



RETRIBUTION 149 

A youth came up panting : he was armed only with a 
long knife thrust into his belt. 

The band had increased its numbers from three to five. 

The journey was resumed as silently as before. They 
were going along the skirts of the Sredna Gora, just by 
where the peak of the Bogdan (down which flows the 
Beleshtitsa) rises. At last they came to the stream. It 
was indeed a favourable point of attack. On the right- 
hand side was the Strema, which the Turks had to cross : 
on the left was a deep gorge, thickly wooded with shrubs 
and under-growth, and behind it rose the mountain. The 
band halted here. They were about an hour's march from 
Altinovo, so that if it were necessary to fire, the reports 
would not be heard. As they took up their position in the 
thicket, the dawn began to appear. The snow was falling 
thicker than ever. The five comrades, reclining on the 
snow, waited patiently with their eyes fixed towards the 
east, from whence the zapties were to come. But the first 
sound they heard was the howHng of wolves. It came from 
behind their heads and approached nearer and nearer. 
Probably the animals were making for the plains to seek 
their breakfast before dawn. 

" They're coming towards us," said Ivan Ostenoff. 

" We're not to fire on any account." 

" The work must be done with our knives and the butt- 
ends of our guns ; do you hear ? " said Ognianofi. 

His comrades listened anxiously. The continued rustling 
in the thicket above them showed that the enemy was 
approaching silently and in a body. There was a fresh 
howl. One could now see the black mass advancing. 

" Curse the wolves ! they may ruin our whole plan," said 
Ognianoff. 

At the same moment some wolves leaped on the open 
ground just behind them, and stopped. They raised their 
sharp muzzles, and sniffed ominously. The rest of the 
band appeared. 

*' There's eight of them," whispered Kill-the-Bear ; " you 
divide four among you — I'll take the rest ! " 

As soon as they saw their promised prey, the famished 
beasts rushed into the thicket, which now became as it were 
a fortress, of which the assailants were wolves, and the 
garrison men. Knives and daggers flashed hither and 
thither ; guns rose and fell ; the howling ceased : only teeth 



150 UNDER THE YOKE 

and claws were at work now. On one side the combatants 
were hungry for food — on the other side for vengeance. 
Some of the animals soon rolled fatally wounded in the 
thicket : the rest fell upon their fallen companions, whom 
they devoured ravenously while still living ; soon all were 
driven from the thicket by the frequent salhes of Ivan Kill- 
the-Bear, who rushed out barking like a sheep-dog and 
brandishing his axe which dealt many a deep wound. He 
reminded one of Samson when he routed the PhiUstine army 
with the jawbone of an ass. 

Such of the wolves as survived were driven across to the 
other side of the stream, where they stopped to Hck their 
wounds. 

Fortunately no one passed while the struggle was going on. 

" The wolves won't leave this spot," said Ognianoff. 

" Let them stop, then, and we'll prepare a banquet for 
them that will make them remember Kill- the -Bear's wed- 
ding," said Spirdonoff. 

'* God bless his soul I " murmured Kill-the-Bear, much 
gratified. 

They waited for some time in silence. 

The Turks did not appear, though it was past the second 
cock-crow. The little band had heard long before the 
distant sounds wafted through the stillness of the night 
from the neighbouring villages. It became lighter every 
moment ; the trees in the plain were growing more distinct. 
The young men began to feel anxious ; they were numbed 
with cold, and it seemed as though the zapties were not 
coming. They might have postponed their journey on 
account of the heavy snowfall during the night, or else 
perhaps as a preca'ution against an unexpected attack. Ifc 
would soon be broad dayhght ; the road would begin to 
be frequented, and then nothing could be done. These 
thoughts formed in the mind of each of them : a terrible 
impatience seized them : the situation became unendurable, 
a perfect torture. Ostenoff groaned in despair. 

" We must wait here till they pass, whenever that may 
be ; we mustn't move from here," said Ognianoff, hoarsely. 

" But if other people pass by ? " 

" Let them — ^we only want two." 

" But we shall have to fall upon them openly then ? " 

" If we can't do it secretly we must do it openly." 

" We can fire at them from here, and then be off to the 



RETRIBUTION 151 

mountain. Nobody'U see us through the wood," said 
Ostenoff. 

" That's all right. But suppose they've got company 
with them, other Turks ? " 

" Then we shall have a real battle : we're armed, and 
we've got a good position," said Ognianoff. " Remember 
one thing — ^we've all sworn before God that we won't leave 
them alive." 

" God bless their souls." 

" There's only one thing I'm afraid of, boys," said 
Boicho. 

" What's that ? " 

" They may have taken some other road." 

" Make your mind easy about that," said Ostenoff, 
" There is no other road, unless they have gone back, 
which God forbid ! " 

Kill-the-Bear stood up, and began to scan the horizon 
attentively. 

" There's something coming," said he, pointing to the east. 

Every one strained his eyes in that direction. Among 
the trees along the road could be seen two human figures 
on horseback. 

" They're on horseback," cried Ognianoff, with annoy- 
ance. 

*' They can't be our two," said Spirdonoff. 

" Ours are on foot," remarked Ostenoff. 

" God bless their souls ! " 

Ognianoff was excited and angry. He continued to look 
fixedly towards the advancing horsemen, who drew nearer 
and nearer. When they were a hundred yards off, he cried 
joyfully, " It's them ! I know their cloaks and their faces. 
The one-eyed man's on that side." 

All turned, with their guns ready, towards the two 
zapties, who were quietly approaching. 

" I can recognise Tsanko's horse now," said Spirdonoff, 

" Yes ; and the other's mine," added Ognianoff. 

'' They must have taken them by force." 

But Ognianoff 's joy was of short duration. He saw that 
the Turks being mounted c ould now easily escape . It would 
be impossible to act with knives in the open, the work 
would have to be done from their ambush with the guns — 
and a gun is a treacherous weapon. Besides, it was a pity 
for the horses. 



152 UNDER THE YOKE 

" Well, it can't be helped," he thought to himself. 

" We must shoot them ! " 

*' Take care, boys, let the first aim be straight." 

" When they come abreast of us we'U fire," said 
Ognianoff. 

" I'll take the one-eyed one," said Eall-the-Bear. 

" Kill-the-Bear and Spirdonoff the one-eyed man, I and 
the teacher the other," ordered Ostenoff. The horsemen 
reached the thicket. 

Four muzzles were levelled and the report rang out loud 
and clear, awaking the echoes around. The lads gazed 
anxiously through the smoke. One zap tie had fallen, the 
other was dangling by a stirrup. The horses kicked and 
plunged, then stopped still. 

'* Teacher, which one was it who killed my father ? " 
asked Daniel, as he rushed the first out of the ambush. 

" The one-eyed one, lying down there." 

The boy flew at him, drew his knife, and commenced 
stabbing and hacking the ill-fated murderer of his father. 

When the others came up he was still slashing at him 
almost unconsciously — he was like a wild beast thirsting 
for blood. The Turk, still living, was reduced to a shape- 
less and bloody heap of pulp — ^he had lost all semblance 
of human form. The blood formed in pools on the melting 
snow. 

OgnianofE turned away in disgust from this butchery. 
He would have felt still more aversion had it been effected 
by a mere coward, but Petr's brother was brave enough : it 
was only a frenzied thirst for vengeance which impelled him 
to this act of barbarity. Ognianoff thought to himself : 

*' It's a savage revenge, but justifiable before God and 
one's own conscience. It's bloodthirstiness ; but it's a 
good sign. The Bulgarian's been a sheep for five centuries, 
it'll be well if he becomes a wild beast now. Men respect 
the wild goat more than the tame sheep, the dog more 
than the goat, the ferocious tiger more than the wolf or 
bear, the bird of prey more than the barn-door fowl, which 
supplies them with excellent food. Why ? Because they 
represent force, which means liberty and justice. Let 
philosophy flourish, human nature remains always the 
same. Christ has said, ' If they strike you on one cheek, 
turn unto them the other.' That is divine, and I bow 
before it. But I prefer Moses with his ' An eye for an eye 



RETRIBUTION 158 

and a tooth for a tooth.' That's the natural law, which I 
follow. It's the inexorable, sacred principle, on which must 
be based our struggle against the tyrants. To show mercy 
to the merciless is as base as to expect it from them." 

Plunged in these absorbing thoughts, fierce and terrible 
as the hour, and completely at variance with his nature, 
Ognianoff remained behind his comrades, watching the 
pools of blood that formed in the snow by the Turk's 
mangled remains. 

Suddenly on the ghastly mass of quivering flesh he saw a 
string of gold coins. He pointed them out to Spirdonoff. 

" Take them for some poor man to buy his Christmas 
dinner with." Spirdonoff lifted up the necklace with his 
dagger. 

" The ruffians ! what Bulgarian have they plundered, I 
wonder ? Why : its Donka's necklace and no other," cried 
Spirdonoff, in surprise and terror. He was betrothed to her. 

'* They must have given it as a bribe to get her father 
off," said Ognianoff. 

'* But there's only half the necklace here : the other half 
must have been cut off, and remained in this pulp ! " 

And Spirdonoff began to search with his dagger, but the 
other half was not there. It was found in the short 
zaptie's pocket, with whom his comrade had shared the 
booty as well as the punishment. 

Kill-the-Bear finished off the one-eyed zapti6 with his axe. 

The two Turks were quickly concealed in the thicket. 
Meanwhile Tsanko's horse returned quietly to the village, 
but the other, which had scented the wolves, crossed the 
Strema and fled, tail in the air, across the plain. 

" An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," Ognianoff 
muttered, mechanically. 

As the avengers departed, the wolves approached. 
Nature and the wild beasts united to blot out all traces of 
the terrible deed. 

The snow still continued to fall. 

It was now broad daylight : but the neighbourhood was 
quite deserted. Nothing stirred as yet, either on the road, 
or in the fields, which were shrouded in white. No one 
was likely to be abroad at that hour and in such weather : 
thus the early departure of the Turks had been witnessed 
by no one. But the confederates did not wish to be noticed 
on returning to the village. Moreover, the road by which 



154 UNDER THE YOKE 

they had come would now no longer be deserted, as there 
were many mills along it. They held a council of war, and 
decided to climb the northern side of the Bogdan, which 
was thickly overgrown with brushwood, and reach the 
village from the other side of the mountain. The road was 
a hard and precipitous one, but not much frequented, and 
they would find shelter there. Daniel they sent back 
straight to the village. 

CHAPTER XXVI : THE STORM 

Deep snow covered the path up the wooded mountain-side 
along which the party now cUmbed the valley of the 
Beleshtitsa. Kill-the-Bear, who knew the country well, led 
the way with his gun on his shoulder. Their progress was 
difficult, for there was no sign of a road. After half an 
hour's chmbing the perspiration streamed from these hardy 
and weather-beaten youths as if they had been walking for 
hours. When they at last reached the first summit the 
snow had ceased, and soon after from the grey frozen sky 
the sun shone out and poured its vivifying rays on mountain 
and valley, the white surface of which became still more 
dazzling ; it flashed in the sunlight with a thousand quiver- 
ing sparks ; it seemed to be powdered over with diamond 
dust, like the garment of a Bagdad sultana. Down in the 
valley, now awakened, rose thin streams of smoke over the 
villages, and peasants could be seen here and there making 
the first tracks in the slumbering roads and paths. The 
village of Altinovo was clearly discernible below the spurs 
of the mountain, and some movement was noticeable. The 
lads remarked a black mass — probably villagers — moving 
toward the outskirts of the village, where the cemetery was 
situated : they concluded that this was old Stoiko's funeral; 
they could even hear the dull sounds of the church sounding- 
board. But the mountain-side and the summits remained 
unapproached, save by themselves, and slept royally be- 
neath their unsulhed winding-sheet. The majestic Riba- 
ritsa, to the west of the valley, lifted its lofty towering 
summit to heaven, surrounded by a circle of lower peaks ; a 
veil of fleecy cloud, like smoke, hung as if suspended over it. 
Along the northern horizon stretched the straight line of 
the Stara Planina, white with snow and bathed by the 
golden sunlight. Its usually frowning aspect was softened 



THE STORM 155 

down into a peaceful loveliness. Only the gaunt grey- 
rocks, whence flow the crashing waterfalls, remained bare 
and gave a note of harshness to the view. The unbioken 
ridge stretched like a wall as far as the Ambaritsa ; there 
the chain of the Balkans began. 

The confederates stopped from time to time to rest, 
involuntarily admiring the beauty of the wintry scene, but 
in silence. Petr's bereavement, and the vengeance which 
had followed it, weighed heavily on their minds. Only 
a few words were interchanged now and again, and then 
merely with reference to their road. Occasionally one 
of the wayfarers would slip on the steep ascent and be 
helped up by the others with great difficulty. It was then 
that Kill-the-Bear's great strength was most useful. Though 
they stopped frequently to rest, they were much wearied ; 
they were exhausted by hunger and a sharp icy wind, which 
lashed their faces and froze their noses, ears, and hands. 
Meanwhile the brushwood became thicker and more im- 
penetrable. For some time they went on, but at last they 
came to a standstill. There was no longer any sign of a 
path. Before them stretched only the thick tangled under- 
growth, cleft here and there by yawning chasms, and the 
wind became fiercer every minute. 

They looked at each other in dismay. 

" What do you say ? Shall we turn back to the valley 
and take the path that leads to the village ? " said 
Spirdonoff. 

" No," declared Ostenoff ; "we must go the opposite 
way : no turning back." And the others agreed with him. 

After a short deliberation they decided to retrace their 
steps a little and then to strike to the right and force 
their way as best they could through the thicket so as to 
reach the ridge which led to the summit, from whence they 
could get down to the valley on the other side. 

" That's where Dicho's hut is," said Ostenoff ; " we can 
warm ourselves there and get something to eat." 

" I'm of Ostenoff's opinion," said Ognianoff, turning his 
back to the wind ; '* let's make for the hut, first to restore 
ourselves a little, and secondly, we may hear what's been 
going on at Altinovo. It won't do to go back bhndly." 

Ognianoff might have added a third reason : the sharp 
pain in his foot, which had been renewed by the hard 
exercise and the cold. 



156 UNDER THE YOKE 

" That's true," assented Spirdonoff, " Tsanko's horse 
must have got back by this time and the whole story must 
be known." 

" Oh ! that's all right," said Ostenoff, " by this time the 
wolves will have cleared off even the bones of the zapties. 
If the Turks go to look for them they'll find only a few 
rags. The good old snow will have covered all traces of 
blood on the road, and I noticed there wasn't a drop on 
Tsanko's horse." 

They now emerged on the bare hill-side, and again 
deliberated as to the direction to be taken. 

Ivan Kill-the-Bear was attentively scanning the sky. 
His comrades waited for him to give his opinion. 

" Come on, let's make for the hut at once, I don't Uke 
the look of the Ribaritsa, God bless its soul," he said 
seriously. 

The band then turned to the north-east and began the 
ascent. The wind was blowing fiercely, raising the skirts of 
the wayfarer's cloaks, and penetrating under their clothes to 
the very skin. At every step the violence of the tempest 
increased. Ognianoff was gradually falling behind. He 
felt that his strength was deserting him : there was a buzz- 
ing in his ears, his head swam ; he was quite exhausted, 
but he would not call out for assistance : indeed, the wind 
would have prevented his voice from reaching the others. 
He was endowed with unusual strength of will, and to it he 
trusted to pull him through, even though his bodily strength 
should fail him. But a man, however strong he may be 
morally, must sooner or later give way to the laws of 
physics. The greatest effort of will, the most powerful 
strength of mind, cannot raise his powers beyond a certain 
Hmit. The mind may, indeed, stimulate the action of the 
body, but it cannot create a strength which does not already 
exist. All the mountain valleys echoed with the roaring of 
the wind, which was now a fierce hurricane : its icy breath 
numbed their limbs and froze the blood in their veins. The 
air seemed to encompass the wayfarers like a sea of ice : 
the sun's rays instead of warming them stung their flesh like 
thorns. Soon the storm broke right upon them, with thick 
bhnding eddies of snow : it raised the snow in high whirHng 
columns which seemed to reach to the skies. Sun and 
light disappeared : heavens and earth were blended in 
darkness and complete chaos followed, while the blinding 



THE STORM 157 

snow lashed them in fury ; the hurricane whistled and 
roared : it seemed like the end of the world. 

This lasted for two minutes. Then the Balkan storm 
passed to another peak and wrapped it in its thick veil. 
The sun again poured forth its pale rays from the colour- 
less sky. 

The little band had been protected by a high straight 
ledge of rock, like a wall, which sheltered them a little from 
the fury of the elements ; this had saved them, as if by a 
miracle, from being carried off by the storm-blast. One by 
one they rose, as if awaking from a sleep which would have 
ended in death. They were completely benumbed — there 
was no feeling in their hands or feet. They were indeed 
in great danger. The first to come to his senses was Ivan 
Kill-the-Bear — ^he cried : 

" Get up, boys — we must climb the rock, or we're done 
for ! " 

They made an effort, rose, took their guns under their 
arms, and began to move on. Suddenly Kall-the-Bear 
stopped. 

" Why, Where's the teacher ? " 

They all looked round in dismay. Ognianoff was 
nowhere to be seen. 

" The storm must have carried him off ! " 
" He's buried in the snow." 

All hastened to search for him. The precipice yawning 
under their feet filled them with terror. They hardly 
dared to look down. 

" Here he is," cried Ostenoff. 

At the very brink of the abyss, under the snow, two feet, 
clothed in sandals, were seen projecting. They scraped 
away the snow and dragged Ognianoff out. He was 
lifeless, his face was pale as death, his flesh benumbed. 

" God bless his soul ! " ejaculated Kill-the-Bear sym- 
pathetically. 

" Rub him, boys, rub him ! " cried Ostenoff, as he began 
himself to rub his face, hands and breast with snow. 
" He's still warm, we must bring him round." 

Every one forgot his own sufferings in the desire to save 
their perishing comrade. The energetic friction soon 
restored Ognianoff's circulation, and warmed them as 
well. 

" Let's make for the hut at once," cried Ostenoff. And 



158 UNDER THE YOKE 

the three took Ognianoff by his hands and feet and carried 
him to the snow-covered slopes of the Bogdan. Here 
again Kill-the-Bear's powerful muscles were of the greatest 
assistance. At last, after superhuman efforts, they reached 
the hut. 



CHAPTER XXVII : IN THE HUT 
DiCHo's hut stood on a level part of the plain, in a hoUow, 
surrounded by lofty peaks which protected it from the wind. 
Towards the north side of the courtyard was stored the pro- 
vision of hay and leaves for the sheeps' fodder during the 
winter months : this was covered over with a broad, low 
roof. From the hut — where the shepherds who tended the 
flocks remained during winter — smoke was rising cheerfully. 
A watch-dog flew at the wayfarers, but at once recognised 
Ivan Ostenoff, and withdrew satisfied. They carried 
Ognianoff into the warm hut, and continued to rub him 
energetically The shepherd-boy also assisted to save 
Ognianoff's life by taking off his sandals and rubbing his 
feet with snow. When Ognianoff and his comrades saw 
themselves rescued from the danger of being frozen to 
death, they crossed themselves devoutly and thanked 
Heaven for their escape. The shepherd lad heaped more 
wood on the fire. The four sat round it, but were careful 
not to attempt to warm their hands and feet as yet. The 
dog, true to his instinct, stretched himself out by the door 
to watch. 

" Obreiko, where's your uncle Kalcho ? " asked Ostenoff. 

Kalcho was Dicho's brother, and was in charge of the hut. 

*' He went to the village last night ; I'm expecting him 
back now." 

" Give us what you've got in the bag, my lad, we're 
hungry." 

The boy turned out all the provisions they had ; these 
consisted of a few scraps of hard rye-bread, some green 
pepper pods, and a little salt. 

" Isn't there any raki, Obreiko ? " 

" No." 

*' WeU, we must make the best of it. But it's a pity 
there's no raki, the teacher ought to have some to pull him 
round," said Ostenoff, looking at Ognianoff who had 
clenched his hands and was writhing with pain. 



IN THE HUT 159 

" It's all right now, teacher, never fear. What did you 
think of our Sredna Gora ? she's a beauty, isn't she ? " 

'* Thank God nothing happened to any of you," said 
Ognianoff. 

" Oh ! she never hurts old friends like us." 

*' It's my belief," said Ostenoff, " that it was the Stara 
Planina that sent us the storm. Edll-the-Bear was right." 

'' Kill-the-Bear knows what he's about, he doesn't eat 
chaff," roared Ivan himself in his deep tones ; the dog 
barked furiously, the noise having startled him. 

Ognianoff looked with curiosity at Ivan. He could not 
help thinking that the nickname suited him admirably. No 
more appropriate designation could have been found for this 
big-headed, coarse, half -savage giant, who looked as if he 
had been suckled by a bear rather than a woman. He 
gazed at his lofty figure, thin and bony, but powerful : his 
long, angular, shaggy head, with its narrow forehead, small 
grey eyes, and immense nose, very wide at the nostrils, like 
a beast's : his huge mouth, capacious enough to swallow a 
hare whole (Ivan was said to eat raw meat) ; and those long 
hairy, muscular arms, which were fit to wrestle with a lion. 
He seemed to have been intended by Nature to fight with 
savage animals — to which he seemed so closely akin — rather 
than for the idyllic calling of a goatherd. In contrast to all 
this, his face bore an expression of good tempered and 
sheepish simplicity which made him ridiculous. No one 
would have supposed that this coarse, rough, apparently 
undeveloped nature could know feelings of devotion, or the 
most humane and tender of emotions. Yet it was so. His 
very appearance that morning to join the avengers, almost 
comic though it was, bore witness to his kindly and valiant 
disposition. He was ready to sacrifice himself. Under 
the influence of these thoughts it seemed to Ognianoff that 
his face became more sympathetic, and even intelligent. 

*' I say, Ivan, how did you get that awful nickname ? " 

*' What, teacher ! Don't you know ? " repUed Ostenoff. 
" He fought with a bear." 

" Really ? " 

*' Rather — he's a wonderful hunter — ^and killed it, too." 

" Kill-the-Bear, tell us how you and the bear rolled down 
the cliff together." 

" Do you mean to say you wrestled with it ? " asked 
Boicho, astounded. 



160 UNDER THE YOKE 

Instead of answering, Kill-the-Bear raised his hand to his 
neck. Ognianoff then noticed for the first time a deep scar 
there, newly healed ; he then bared his arm to the elbow, 
and showed another fearful wound, which seemed to have 
been caused by an iron hook. Ognianoff shuddered as he 
saw them. 

" Ivan, tell us how you came upon the bear. You're a 
wonderful hunter," he said. 

Ivan looked round triumphantly, his dull countenance 
lighted up with the proud recollection. He began his story. 
" God bless his soul ! " he commenced, with his favourite 
expression. But the dog barked suddenly, and rushed out 
of the hut. 

" What's Mourjo barking for ? Ivan's only just begun," 
said Ostenoff, in jest. 

" It's uncle Kalcho," cried the shepherd-lad. 
Kalcho appeared with his staff, and a bag over his 
shoulder. 

" What, visitors ? welcome, boys ! "he cried, hospitably, 
setting down his burden. 

" Make room for uncle Kalcho to warm himself." 
'* My stars, boys, but it's cold — cold enough to freeze all 
the wolves ! Where did the storm catch you ? " 
" Here, at the bottom of the hiU," said Spirdonoff. 
" But what are you out for in such weather — ^hunting ? 
You ought to know that this isn't the time of year to be out 
on the Balkan." 

" Oh, that's all right, ICalcho — we've had good sport. 
You haven't got any raki, have you ? " said Ostenoff. 

" Kski ? oh yes, I have ; but I've got something still 
better." 

The little flask passed from hand to hand. 
" What can there be better than raki, this weather ? " 
" I've got a piece of news ! " They all listened atten- 
tively. 

*' The wolves ate two IClissoura zapties this morning." 
" You don't say so ? " cried Kill-the-Bear, with assumed 
surprise. The dog again barked at him. 

" Yes, my boy, they've not left a hair of them. A band 
of Turks went to look for them, but all they found was their 
clothes and their bones by the Sardanoff hill. Hajji Omer 
Aga says the zapties must have been attacked while they 
were watering their horses, and tried to fly one way while 



IN THE HUT 161 

the horses bolted the other way. One horse is lost. The 
wolves seem to have thought the Turks' flesh sweeter than 
the horses', and polished them off. Here's luck, boys, and 
the same end to all heathens. They're a race of dogs, and 
may the dogs eat them all." 

And Kalcho took a pull at the flask. He then noticed 
Ognianoff, who was unknown to him, for the first time. 
" And who's this new chum ? " he asked, handing him the 
flask. 

" He's from Kara-Sareli ; we met him on the Balkan. He 
was out after the same game as we were," said Spirdonoff. 

"He's a plucky one if you like — your health, teacher," 
thundered Kill-the-Bear. The dog growled angrily. 

Kalcho turned to Kill-the-Bear with a smile. " Why, 
Bear, what have you been up to, you rogue ? '* 

'' Nothing, Kalcho, nothing." 

" Nothing ? you ought to be ashamed of yourself ; carry- 
ing off a girl and disgracing the pair of you. Well, I wish 
you luck. Where's the game for your wedding-feast ? " 

" I left it in the valley below, uncle," roared Ivan. 

This time Mourjo became seriously angry. 

" Come along, Ivan, tell us how you fought the bear." 

"He ? " said Kalcho, looking slyly at Kill-the-Bear, 
" he'd better tell us how he fought Staika." 

Loud laughter followed this sally. Ivan Ostenoff wished 
to assure himself that the Turks suspected nothing, and 
added : "So that's it, is it ? they were torn to pieces by 
wolves. Don't the Turks say they were killed by 
Bulgarians ? " 

" Why, the whole village knows it. Poor old Stoiko, 
Lord have mercy on him ! " said Kalcho, who had mis- 
understood the question. 

" Yes, I know all about that, but what I want to know is, 
have the Turks any suspicion that it was Bulgarians who 
killed the zapties ? " 

Kalcho looked at him with surprise. 

" Who says so ? Who ever heard of a Bulgarian from our 
village killing a zaptie ? I tell you the wolves polished them 
off, and the Turks are getting ready for a big hunt to- 
morrow, to drive the wolves down to the fords and shoot 
them there. And so much the better, say I, we haven't 
dared to take the sheep into the fields this winter. Here's 
luck, boys ; may we have a merry Christmas, and may you 



162 UNDER THE YOKE 

all follow the Bear's example, but not during the fast. Have 
a drink, mate," and Kalcho handed the raki to Ognianoff, 
whose forces returned under the influence of the potent 
liquor. He raised the flask, and said with emotion : 

" Remember Father Stoiko, boys, the victim of Turkish 
brutality. May God rest his soul, and give us a bold heart 
and a strong hand to £ght against Christ's enemies and pay 
them back a hundredfold. God forgive old Stoiko." 

" God forgive him," the comrades repeated. 

" God forgive him," said Kalcho, taking off his cap. 
Then turning in a friendly manner towards Ognianoff, he 
said : " My stars, mate, but you know how to talk ; God 
must have put the words into your mouth. Things may go 
on for a bit yet, but there'll be trouble one of these days. 
Let's make friends — what's your name ? They call me 
Kalcho Bogdanoff the Cooper," and Kalcho handed the 
flask to Ognianoff. 

He gave him an assumed name, and drank to their 
friendship. 

The visitors ate but little, wishing to spare Kalcho's 
scanty provisions : soon after they took leave of him. He 
followed them to the door, and again addressed Ognianoff. 
*' Beg pardon, mate, but I've forgotten your name — never 
mind ; but whenever you come by here again mind you 
come and see me — you can talk, and no mistake. God 
bless you ! " 

A few stirring words from Ognianoff had strangely moved 
the poor goatherd. It was not that they were altogether 
new to him — he had shared in the hatred of his oppressors 
from his earliest youth ; but the " mate " had spoken a 
word or two of the *' struggle," and these words had 
struck on a chord hitherto untouched, and awakened new 
feelings within him. We shall see later what result these 
words eventually produced. 

The confederates were soon lost to sight : they made 
their way down the valley to the village, which was now 
quite dark. 

Ognianoff decided to spend the night at Dochka*s inn. 
But no sooner had he entered the room than fifteen armed 
bashi-bozouks mounted the stairs : they were led by the 
zaptie whom Boicho had noticed on the previous day at 
the cafe in the Turkish village. 

Alas ! there was no Kalcho to warn him this time. 



PART II 

CHAPTER I : TOGETHER AGAIN 

Rada could not contain herself for joyful expectation. 
During the whole ^nnter she had mourned Boiicho as dead, 
there seemed no doubt that, as was confidently asserted by 
the Turks, he had been shot in the Ahievo thicket, though 
the body had never been discovered, and Sister Rovoama 
took a maUcious pleasure in dwelling upon his fate, 
embroidering the recital with graphic and harrowing details 
derived from her own imagination. The poor girl, held up 
to general scorn and contumely as the rebel's betrothed, 
had taken refuge at the cottage of a lowly relative, and 
scarcely ventured out of doors. 

And now all this sorrow was forgotten — for had not the 
news reached her, through the faithful Kolcho, that 
Ognianoff was not dead after all, that he had appeared in 
a peasant's disguise at a meeting of the Revolutionary 
Committee, which had recently resumed its sittings, and 
would come to her that very evening ? Small wonder, then, 
if she counted the very moments that were to elapse before 
his coming, and peered anxiously from the window every 
now and then to see if he were approaching, and if no 
suspicious-looking strangers were about. 

For six months have elapsed since the vengeance taken 
for Father StoJko's murder. These six months have been 
for Bela Cherkva a troubled period ; the discovery of the 
bodies of the two Turks at the mill had led to many arrests, 
and had redoubled the fury of the ruling race against the 
insubordinate ray as. Dr. Sokoloff had been thrown into 
gaol on suspicion of being an accompHce in the crime, but 
no evidence could be produced against him, and he had 
moreover a powerful ally in the person of the Bey's wife — 
for it may now be confessed that Hajji Rovoama's state- 
ments on this head were true for once ; he was therefore 
released on bail, our old friends Marko Ivanoff and Micho 
Beyzade being his sureties. But Lalka's marriage to 
Stefchoff, followed a few months later by her early death, 
had left the doctor a disappointed man, animated only by 
the desire to work at the same time for his country's libera- 
tion and the destruction of his hated rival, the notorious 
Turkish spy. As for the revolutionary ardour displayed so 

163 



164 UNDER THE YOKE 

openly before, it was deemed only prudent to conceal it till 
the storm should have blown over, and for a time the com- 
mittee ceased to meet. But with the approach of spring the 
suspicions of the Turks died away ; all over Southern 
Bulgaria the revolutionary effervescence broke out once 
more, and the committee meetings were again in full swing. 
It was only the next evening, at nightfall, that Ognianoff 
was able to visit Rada. 

Her eyes were weary with watching. Those tedious 
hours, full of anxious longing, emotion, and anxiety, seemed 
to her to be longer than centuries. 

When at last she heard Ognianoff 's knock at the door, 
she seemed to have no strength left in her, yet she flew to 
open it. 

The lovers clasped each other fondly and their lips met 
in a long passionate kiss. 

A whole torrent of joy was expressed in a few repeated 
kisses, a few broken words. 

After the first agitation of their long-deferred meeting, 
the two happy lovers became calmer. Their joy was in- 
expressible. Rada was fairer than ever, with the light of 
love in her face. She thought Bo'icho had never seemed 
more handsome than in his peasant's dress which set off 
so well the fine and expressive features of his manly face. 
" And how have you been, darHng ? " he asked tenderly. 
" Poor child — you've had much to go through. I've 
destroyed you, I've sacrificed you, Rada. Yet you haven't 
a word of reproach for me — ^you're always the same loving 
little soul, the same tender little heart, bom only for 
caresses and kindness. Forgive me, forgive me, Rada, 
dear ! " and Ognianoff pressed her hands in his own and 
ost himself in the depths of her great and flashing eyes. 

" Forgive you ? I won't forgive you," she cried, in feigned 
anger. " What do you mean ? Do you suppose 1 am not 
going to mourn for you when I think you dead ? Not 
even to send me a fine ! Ah, Boicho, Boicho, don't die, 
for God's sake ! 1 can't do without you. 1 want to be 
always with you — to watch over you as the apple of my 
eye — ^to love you — oh ! so much — and to rejoice in you. 
You've suffered terribly, Boicho, haven't you ? Ah ! how 
foolish 1 am ! 1 haven't even asked you what you've been 
doing all these months — these terrible centuries, as they've 
eemed to me." 



TOGETHER AGAIN 165 

" I've wandered far and wide, Rada, and gone through 
much danger ; but there's a God for us, too, and so we've 
met once more." 

" No, no — you must tell me all about it — I want to 
know. Such terrible stories they told about you, one more 
frightful than the other. My God ! how can people be so 
unmerciful as to invent sue • things ! Tell me, Boicho. 
Now you're with me safe and sound I can listen boldly to 
-everything you've gone through, however terrible it may be." 

And she looked at him beseechingly, with inexpressible 
affection and sympathy. 

Boicho had not the heart to refuse her request. She 
was quite right. And besides he was only too ready to 
disburden his soul to some friendly hearer, some responsive 
heart : the memories of Sifferings endured, of misfortunes 
gone through, possess a special charm when related in 
hours of happiness. Boicho recounted in simple language 
his adventures since he had left Bela Cherkva. In Rada's 
clear childish eyes were reflected the emotions of her soul 
as she listened to him ; he read there now fear, now kind- 
ness and compassion, now joy and triumph : she swallowed 
eagerly every word, she endured and went through every- 
thing, and did not once take from him her glance which 
cheered and comforted him so sweetly. 

" Oh ! Boicho ! some one must have betrayed you ! " she 
cried in dismay when he came to the story of his being 
attacked by Turks at the inn at Altinovo. 

" I can't tell — ^I won't accuse a Bulgarian. Perhaps I 
betrayed myself in the Turkish caf 6 by some imprudent act." 

*' Well ? Go on ! " she asked impatiently and excitedly. 

*' I heard from my room the steps of the Turks, and 
understood at once that they'd come after me. Everything 
grew dark before my eyes. I saw there was no hope : I was 
lost. I took out my revolver and stood by the door. I 
had six bullets — five foi them and the sixth for myself." 

" My God ! my God ! to think that all the while I knew 
nothing — perhaps I was laughing here at that every 
moment." 

" You must have been praying for me, Rada, for God 
once more had mercy on me and saved me from inevitable 
destruction." 

" Did He perform a miracle, Boicho ? " 

" Yes, a miracle, if you like. He blinded the Turks. 



166 UNDER THE YOKE 

Instead of coming into my room, they entered the first room 
by the courtyard . I found out afterwards that immediately 
after me some cashier had arrived from Philippopolis, a 
Greek, and they had given him the next room to mine. 
He seems to have been very much Hke me in appearance, and 
this confused the zaptie, who had seen me the day before." 

Rada sighed with relief. 

" I heard them talking loudly, and understood that there 
was some mistake and that they'd be upon me in another 
minute. Only a minute divided me from them, from death. 
I don't remember now how I pulled the window open and 
flung myself into the road below — ^not the road, that is, but 
the river, which was frozen. The ice broke and I plunged 
into the cold water up to my knees. While I was struggling 
to reach the dry land, I heard a deafening noise — five or six 
guns were fired at me from the window. Then I turned to 
flight, a mad unreasoning flight. How long I fled in the 
dark — where I passed — I have no idea." 

" Were they pursuing you ? " 

" Yes, I heard them for some time, then all became 
still. I was in the depth of the forest. It was night and 
the wind was blowing hard. My clothes were frozen as 
stiff as boards. I went on for two hours to the westward, 
always through the thickets, and at length reached the 
village of Ovcheri, more dead than alive. There some kind 
people took me in and gave me food and shelter ; one of my 
toes was frostbitten, but thank God ! .... I stayed there 
for a fortnight, but I was afraid of bringing trouble on these 
poor people — I seem to draw misfortune on every one — and 
I made my way to Pirdop, where Mouratliski's brother was 
employed as a schoolmaster. I stayed with him for three 
months, during Avhich time I was dangerously ill." 

" Pocr Boicho ! You've wandered over : he mountains and 
in the flelds all the winter — you're a perfect martyr," said 
Rada compassionately. 

" He's as true as steel, that brother of Mouratliski's — he 
looked after me like a mother." 

" There's a noble-hearted Bulgarian ! " said Rada, grate- 
fully. 

" Yes ; and a great patriot ; he's repaid me threefold all 
that I'd done for his brother." 

" And did no one recognise you ? Oh, Boicho, do take 
care, even here ! " 



TOGETHER AGAIN 16T 

Boicho had taken off his cap, and the bandage over his 
eye. He went to the looking-glass, replaced them both, and 
then turned towards her, greatly metamorphosed. 
" Do you recognise me now ? " 

" I should recognise your face under a mask ! See how 
he's looking at me ! How funny you are, Boicho ! " and 
she laughed merrily. 

" You know me because you love me ; but how should 
strangers ever find me out ? " 

" Ah, hatred has sharp eyes — take care ! " 
" For that kind of acquaintance I've always got this 
ready," said Ognianoff, raising his cloak and showing the 
butt-ends of two revolvers, and the handle of his knife fixed 
in his belt. 

" Man of blood ! The sister Hajji Rovoama was quite 
right ! " laughed Rada. 

" If I'm a man of blood you're the opposite extreme — 
you're an angel ! " 

" Don't make fun of a poor girl." 
He sat down again. 

" Well, go and tell me how you got here. And who are 
these Mouratliskis ? " asked Rada, who had now heard the 
name mentioned twice. 

" Brzobegounek's brother." 

" What, the Austrian here ? the photographer ? " 
" Yes, Rada, it's an assumed name ; his real name is 
Dobri Mouratliski. He's as much an Austrian as he is a 
photographer. He's escaped from the revolt at Stara 
Zagora. I sheltered him here and concealed him under 
that name. He's an old and thoroughly devoted friend of 
mine. You can rely on him entirely in case of need." 
Rada looked at him in dismay. 

" Why should I rely on strangers ? There's no necessity. 
You know I've got my savings to live on." 

" Yes ; but you needn't look on him as a stranger." 
" But haven't I got you ? " 
" I must be off again, Rada." 

" Going ? where are you going ? Are you going to leave 
me again ? " 

" This very night, in two hours' time," said Ognianoff, 
looking at his watch, and replacing it in his pocket. 
Rada grew pale. 
*' So soon — why, I've hardly seen you ! " 



168 UNDER THE YOKE 

" I must be at K. before dawn. I've got a mission. 
Besides, it's not safe for me to stay any longer at Bela Cherk- 
va. I'm sorry I couldn't even thank Marko for all his kind- 
ness to you, and, for that matter, to me too. Ah! there's 
some noble hearts among us, Rada, and that makes me love 
Bulgaria still more. I love her so well because she pro- 
duces such charming creatures as you." 

" Oh, Boicho ! why are you going, darling ? But no, 
better go, and take me with you. You must go — you've 
devoted yourself to Bulgaria. Take me away from this 
black town ; put me in some village where I can see you 
often — or, if you like, let me do something for the nation as 
well. I'm a Bulgarian too, and your ideals are mine, 
Boicho, and if you die for Bulgaria I'll die with you. But 
don't let us be separated — it's terrible to remain alone, 
to have a thousand terrors for you, to hear bad news of 
you continually ! Oh, God ! how good it is now 
we're together ! " And she placed her hands on his 
shoulder. 

" Rada, I can see for myself how sad a position you're 
in here," said Ognianoff, feelingly. " I can guess what 
you don't tell me. My enemies persecute you still, don't 
they, dear ? There's more than one Hajji Rovoama 
here, I know. And you endure all silently — you suffer 
heroically, for my sake. Poor dear angel ! The great 
cause which has so entirely absorbed me does not leave 
me a minute to take thought of your position. I'm 
thoroughly selfish — it's my fault. Forgive me, darling ! " 

" Ah ! Boicho, Boicho, if you leave me alone again some- 
thing tells me I shall lose you for ever ! I shall never see 
you again," continued Rada, and her eyes grew moist. She 
added in low, beseeching tones, " Don't leave me here, 
Boicho. Whether you live or die I want to be with you ; I 
won't be in your way. I'll assist you, I'U do everything for 
you ; only let me see you oftener." 

"No, you can do nothing. The revolution demands a 
man's strength, bloodthirstiness, merciless ferocity, and 
you're a perfect angel. Besides, you've done your duty ; 
the flag you've worked with the lion on it will inspire and 
encourage us. That's quite enough for a Bulgarian girl." 

Then, as a thought struck him, he added : 

" Listen to me, Rada, will you come to Klissoura and 
stay with Mouratliski's wife ? I'U arrange it all. There 



TOGETHER AGAIN 169 

may be danger there, too ; but at least you'll be free from 
the intrigues here." 

" I'U go wherever you like, if I can only see you." 

" I'm acting as agitator in the villages round, and I often 
pass through. Next time I come to Bela Cherkva it mil 
be to raise the rebelHon. We shall see one another till then, 
Rada ; afterwards, God knows if I shall come out of the 
struggle alive ; it will be a great and bloody struggle. If 
God only blesses our cause ; if our country — ^this much- 
enduring country of ours — only rises from the struggle 
bloodstained but free, I shall die happy. My only regret 
would be that I should be leaving you, dear. For my love 
for you is boundless, my whole heart is yours ; but my hfe 
belongs to Bulgaria. And I shall know that at least there's 
one heart in the world that mil pity me and shed tears over 
my unknown grave." 

A cloud passed over Boicho's face. 

Rada seized his hands with emotion. 

" Oh, Boicho, you mustn't die. God will preserve such 
heroes as you for Bulgaria, and then you'll become famous. 
And I — oh ! how happy I shall be then ! " 

Boicho shook his head incredulously. 

" Well, darling," he said, " we're in God's hands," and 
taking her hands in his own he added : 

" Rada, whatever happens, I want to have a clear con- 
science. I may perish ; indeed, I feel that I shall." 

" Oh, Boicho ! don't say that." 

" Listen, Rada ! I may perish, because I'm going to face 
death ; but I want to have my mind at rest as regards you. 
You have united your fate with mine — ^the convict, the out- 
cast : you've made me very happy with your love : you've 
sacrificed for me something dearer than your life — your good 
repute ; and you've been cruelly punished for it by the 
world ; you've forgotten all for my sake. If I die I must 
know that you're at least an honest woman before God and 
the world, k not a happy one. I want you to bear my real 
name, the name of Kralich. There's nothing dishonourable 
attached to that name, Rada. When you come to Klissoura 
I shall call in the Pope to give us the nuptial blessing, and 
I shall try to provide for your future maintenance. My 
father's a wealthy man ; he loves me and will carry out the 
last wishes of his only son. I'd have done it here, only it's 
not possible now. However, we can do it elsewhere. I've 



170 UNDER THE YOKE 

no ring to give you, Rada, neither of gold nor of iron — ^the 
iron I carry is for the enemy. But there's no need of that : 
above us is God, the great and just God of Bulgaria, the 
God of crushed and broken hearts, of suffering humanity, 
He sees and hears us." 

And taking her by the hand he knelt down : 
" Let us pledge ourselves before His presence, He will 
bless our holy union." She knelt beside him. 

Their lips uttered sounds heard only by the Almighty. 

^ V ^ *1* H* 

When Ognianoff left the house the street was quite dark. 
In turning the comer he met and almost ran against a nun. 
He recognised the sister Hajji Rovoama. She was going to 
her brother's house. Some fatality had brought her to 
Rada's door just as Ognianoff went out. 

Hajji Rovoama fixed her eyes on the peasant, but did 
not recognise him. However, she turned in to the Lilo- 
vitches* house on some pretext to try and find out who the 
stranger was. 

The next day, Rada set out for Klissoura. 

CHAPTER II : EXTREMES MEET 
Chorbaji Yordan was growing older and weaker every day, 
and the death of his daughter Lalka had been a heavy blow 
to him. A gastric disorder, which had during "toiany weeks 
confined him to his bed, had further affected his character 
very much, and rendered him more impatient and exacting 
than ever. 

That morning the weather was delightful, and he had 
ventured out as far as a garden he had at the outskirts of 
the town. It was a good, broad piece of ground, sur- 
rounded by high walls, and abundantly planted with fruit- 
trees, flowers, and vegetables. The walk, and the fresh air 
and sunshine combined, invigorated the old man, who had 
been compelled for so long to keep to the house. His step 
was firmer as he walked home. But just as he reached the 
house of Ghenko Ghinkin, his son-in-law, he felt a sudden 
weakness, his legs seemed to be giving way under him. He 
turned in to Ghenko 's house to rest. 

At the door stood Ghenko Ghinkin, still shyer, more 
tipaid, and more of a nonentity than ever. He was carrying 
a baby a few months old in his arms, which was screaming 



EXTREMES MEET 171 

lustily as he rocked and dandled it in approved nurse- 
fashion. 

Yordan made for the garden seat, overhung with flowers, 
and seated himself heavily, as he said with a frown : 

" Confound you, have you become a wet-nurse ? What's 
become of her ? " 

By " her " Yordan meant his daughter. 

Ghenko became confused — which was indeed his normal 
condition — and muttered incoherently : 

" She's busy — she said I was to nurse Yordancho — she's 
got plenty to do to-day." 

" She didn't tell you to wear a petticoat at the same time, 
did she ? " asked Yordan, contemptuously. " Ghina, get me 
a cup of coffee, will you ? " he cried, without looking for her. 

" She's busy baking — she's busy, father — ^that's why I'm 
nursing the baby. Coffee ? I'll get you a cup of coffee in a 
minute. I know where she keeps the coffee, and the sugar, 
and all," stammered Ghenko, as he set the baby down on 
the old man's knees and vanished. 

The child began to scream louder than ever. 

Yordan became furious. He put the child in a corner of 
the seat, stood up, and shouted : 

" What the devil do you mean ? Are you a perfect fool ? 
Ghina, come here directly ! " 

" Why, father, good-morning ? How are you this 
morning ? All right ? You're quite right in going out 
such a fine morning," cried Ghina from the threshold, 
smiling cheerfully. 

She had on a large blue apron, her sleeves were tucked 
up to her elbows, the green handkerchief on her head was 
pushed back, and her face was powdered over with flour. 
She looked very well, and reminded one of some of the 
types so common in paintings of the Flemish school. 

" What are you doing ? What does that wet-nurse of a 
husband of yours mean ? Why are you as white as a 
miller ? Isn't there any one here to give one a cup of 
coffee ? " grumbled the old man in angry and authoritative 
tones. 

" I'm very sorry, father ; the fact is I've just set to work. 
I'll get you a cup of coffee in a minute. Ghenko ! wherever 
have you got to now ? Take Yordancho and put him in his 
cradle this minute ; he ought to be asleep long ago." 

'* What are you working at ; what's this you're baking ? " 



172 UNDER THE YOKE 

" I've got a lot to bake — every one must take their share — 
we're Bulgarians and patriots too, aren't we ? " said Ghina, 
as she laughed boisterously. 

" Bulgarians ? patriots ? What in the world do you 
mean ? What are you baking ? " asked her father, angrily. 

" Why, biscuit, father." 

" Biscuit ? " 

" Yes, of course. Why not ? " 

" What do you want biscuit for ? Are you going to the 
country ? " 

Instead of answering, Ghina burst into a loud giggle. 

Yordan looked at her in deep displeasure. He had 
never been able to endure his daughter's perpetual and 
meaningless laughter ; no two persons could be more 
thoroughly different than she, with her gay temperament, 
and her father, with his choleric nature. 

She approached nearer, and said in a whisper : 

" Who thinks of going to the country nowadays ? We're 
getting the biscuit ready for something quite different ; it's 
for the boys." 

Yordan looked at her utterly bewildered. 

" What boys ? " 

" Why, the brave Bulgarian boys, father, when they go 
out on the Balkan." 

" What boys are you drivelling about, woman ? " asked 
Yordan, more and more surprised. 

Ghina came still nearer, and said : 

" For the insurrection : hasn't the committee ordered 
it?" 

And she burst out laughing again. 

Yordan leaped to his feet. He could not believe his 
ears. 

" What insurrection, woman ? what committee ? Do 
you mean for a revolution ? " 

" Yes, a revolution ! We won't have this brute of a 
Sultan to reign over us any longer," said Ghina, boldly, 
but she started back the next moment, for her father had 
raised his stick to strike her. 

The old man, quite pale and trembling like a leaf with 
rage, cried with all the force he could muster : 

" What, you donkey, you empty-headed chatterbox, 
you're going to make a revolution ! You're tired of your 
distaff and your needle, and you must needs begin to bake 



EXTREMES MEET 178 

biscuits to feed all the bandits and ragamuffins in the place. 
Aren't you ashamed of yourself, you lunatic ? She won't 
have the Sultan any longer, if you please. There's a hussy 
for you ! And what's the Sultan done to you, I should like 
to know ? Have they taken away your child ? Have you 
been oppressed in any way ? She's ready to let her house 
and child go to rack and ruin, but she must pull down the 
Sultan ! And what are you thinking of all the time, you 
miserable creature ? Are you of the same mind ? Are you 
going to follow the flag too ? " asked Yordan sneeringly of 
Ghenko, who was looking on, terrified, from the door. 

Ghenko Ghenkin stammered out something, and fled 
back towards the house. Ghina was already taking off 
her apron and arranging her dress, for she saw that her 
father's shouts had attracted the neighbours. When she 
saw Ghenko she caught up a slipper and seized him by the 
throat. 

" You good-for-nothing ! what do you mean by saying I 
was baking ? " 

Ghenko, in the proud consciousness of his dignity as a 
husband, did not condescend to answer his wife, but 
managed to escape her grasp and ran into the room. 
Locking the door securely, he breathed again, now that he 
had placed that rampart between his back and his wife's 
slipper, and cried triumphantly : 

" Hit me now, if you can ! I'm your husband and you're 
my wife. Just let me see you hit me ! " 

But Ghina was not listening to him. She had gone out 
into the courtyard, because her father had gone away 
excited and angry. 

When he got home he was much exhausted. He passed 
through the yard panting with fatigue, and sat down to rest 
on the bottom step of the staircase. 

Chorbaji Yordan was utterly amazed by what he had 
heard. True, though he had long been confined to the 
house, yet some rumours had reached even to his ears. 
The secret of a forthcoming insurrection was everybody's 
property — even the deaf had heard of it. It was supposed 
to be in preparation somewhere towards Panaghiourishte, 
among the mountains and the woods, according to what 
Yordan had heard, so the flames would break out far 
enough away from his roof. But to-day, from what his 
feather-brained daughter had told him, he saw that Bela 



174 UNDER THE YOKE 

Cherkva was also on the point of an eruption. What could 
the Turks be about ? Were they deaf or blind, not to see 
how the Empire w^as being undermined ? he thought. 

On his right he heard children's voices. They came 
from a window, a little over his head, by which the cellar 
was lighted. Yordan rose and began to go upstairs. As 
he reached the third step he mechanically stopped and 
looked in at the window. There he saw his two youngest 
children, of whom the eldest was but thirteen years old, 
standing by a bright fire, and busily concocting something. 
So deeply were they absorbed by their task that they did 
not notice their father's head peering in. 

One of the boys was holding an iron saucepan over the 
fire, and watching its contents with the greatest attention ; 
the other boy was taking from it with a kind of shovel 
certain dark lumps, of which there was already a whole 
heap in front of them . They w ere busily engaged in making 
bullets : one of them was melting the lead in the saucepan, 
the other held the mould. 

" You young thieves — you vagabonds ! " cried Yordan, 
the moment he saw what his sons were about, as he turned 
back, shaking his stick at them. 

The boys hurriedly left their laboratory, and fled like 
the wind out of the cellar into the street, where they dis- 
appeared. 

" They've ruined me, the thieves — the murderers — curses 
on them ; they're getting ready for the revolution too ! " 
cried Yordan, as he hurried upstairs rapidly, for anger had 
galvanised his muscles. 

On the verandah upstairs he met his wife in deep mourn- 
ing. 

" What, Dona, aren't you in it too? " he asked with a look 
of suspicion. " The whole family's gone mad — they'll ruin 
me — they'll break iny heart, at my time of life, too ! " 

He gasped, quite exhausted. 

His wife looked at him in amazement. 

" Pencho, Pencho ! " he cried, " what's become of him ? 
I want to see what he's about. If the little ones are making 
bullets, he must be casting cannon-balls — a set of rascals ! " 

" He's not here," said his wife ; " he's gone to K." 

" What the devil is he doing there ? " 

" Perhaps he's gone to take the £100 to the tanner." 

" What ! to Tossoun Bey ? He was to have gone to- 



FATHER-IN-LAW AND SON-IN-LAW 176 

morrow. What does he mean by going without asking 
leave first ?". 

And Chorbaji Yordan went to his desk. He opened it 
hurriedly and began to fumble in the drawers among the 
books and papers. But the money-bag was not there. 
Instead of it he came upon a Lefaucheux revolver among 
the papers. 

" What's this pistol doing here ? Whose is it ? Who's 
been meddhng with my desk ? I'm looking for my money- 
bag and in its place I find a revolver ! " 

" You know no one ever touches your desk except your- 
self and Pencho," observed his wife. 

" There's a scoundrelly son for you — there's a vagabond ! 
I'll never make a man of him. He's an enemy of the 
State, a revolutionary, if you please. Not a doubt of it : 
he must have persuaded the little ones to make bullets. All 
of 'em at work : all busy weaving the rope for their own 
necks ! What's the meaning of all this infernal nonsense, 
eh ? Why, every one'll become a rebel, down to the very 
cats, if this goes on ! Where's Kiriak ? " 

" He's here, making up the bundles." 

Yordan went hastily towards the room where Stefchoff 
was. 

CHAPTER III : FATHER-IN-LAW AND 

SON-IN-LAW 
Stefchoff, who since his mairiage had become a regular 
inmate of the house, was making up, with the assistance of 
the two workmen, the bales of home-manufactured braid 
ready to be sent off to the Eski Jouma, a fair on St. Gregory's 
day. So as to be more at his ease he had thrown off his 
coat and fez ; his face, though flushed with the exercise, 
still preserved its usual repulsive expression of harsh and 
unsympathetic indifference. 

He let go the string Avith which he was fastening the 
bales when he saw Yordan come in, excited and trembling, 
with deep furrows on his brow. 

" What, Kiriak, are you doing there ? " he cried as he 
opened the door. " It seems you and 1 are the only loyal sub- 
jects of the Sultan left in the house. Every one else, down 
to the very cats, have joined the rebels ; they're buying 
revolvers and making bullets . Fire and sword are being pre- 
pared while we're sitting here getting our goods ready for the 



176 UNDER THE YOKE 

fair. I've been ill all this while ; but you must have 
heard and seen all this, yet you go on letting me sink so 
much money in these goods, in such brigand times as 
these." 

The two workmen went out quietly. 

Stefchoff stared at him in amazement. 

" What are you staring at, you idiot ! " cried Yordan ; 
" I tell you my whole family has taken up with the 
' Komita,' the family of Chorbaji Yordan, the Sultan's 
most faithful subject, the friend of Kaimmakams and 
Pashas. What do you suppose common people are about, 
if my relations have become insurgents ? A set of ruffians 
are busy forming committees under our very noses, and we 
stand looking about us like a parcel of fools ! " 

And Chorbaji Yordan, with his anger increasing every 
moment, began to recount the discoveries he had made 
that day. 

" You must have known this kind of thing was going on ; 
what do you mean by not mentioning a word of it to me all 
this time ? " 

" I didn't want to trouble you while you were ill." 

" Have you spoken to the Bey about it ? " 

It should be noticed that although the secret was common 
property, Stef choff was the very man who knew least about 
it, partly because everybody avoided mentioning the insur- 
rection before him, and partly because he himseK despised 
the whole business, and did not seek to conceal his con- 
tempt for the patriots and their proceedings. 

Stefchoff's face flamed with sudden anger. 

" I'll tell the Bey all about the scoundrels this very day ! " 
he cried, enraged. 

" You ought to have done so long ago ! " 

" They meet in Beyzade's garden. Let the police seize 
them there and examine them. After a couple of hundred 
blows from the stick they'll confess their mother's milk. 
You're right, I ought to have stopped these rascally plots 
against the State long ago, and I would have done so, but 
for all the trouble we've had. If anybody isn't satisfied with 
the government here, let him go off to Russia withjthe 
teacher Klimet; don't let them try and bum our houses 
down." ' r 

Stef choff opened the door and whispered for a moment to 
some one outside. 



FATHER-IN-LAW AND SON-IN-LAW 177 

" Do you know who the fools are ? " 

" Sokoloff's the leader of them," said Stefchoff, his face 
flushed with maUce. In his hatred against the doctor was 
mingled a burning, fiery jealousy ; it was the only way in 
which that stony heart could be affected by love for the 
departed. 

" What ? is that scoundrel still at it ? " 

Stefchoff went to his coat and took something from the 
pocket. 

Yordan watched him attentively. 

" Here's a letter I found in the street yesterday, just by 
your house." 

" What letter is it ? " 

" It's signed by Sokoloff, and addressed to some vagabond 
of the same kind at Panaghiourishte." 

" What's it all about ? Fire and sword and aU that sort 
of thing ? " 

" Not at all, it's quite innocent in appearance, but I'll 
take my oath it's all got some hidden meaning," said 
Stefchoff, putting the letter away carefully. " However, 
Samanoff will tell us what it all means, he's such a 
sleuth-hound, he'd scent out a rebel a thousand yards 
off." 

Downstairs Yordan's wife was superintending the prepara- 
tions for dinner. 

At that moment Ghina came in. Her mother at once 
proceeded to vent her rage upon her for having so angered 
her father. 

" What are you angry about, mother ? You ought to be 
pleased. The Chorbajis ought to be the first to give the 
example." 

" Silence, Ghina ! " screamed her mother. " You're 
mad ! I won't listen to you ! " 

" I'm not mad, but I'm a Bulgarian and a patriot ! " 
retorted Ghina, boldly. 

" Bulgarian and patriot ? Is that why you beat your 
husband every day of your life ? " 

" I beat him because he's my master. That's another 
matter altogether ; that's a matter of internal policy." 

" You fool ! Do you want to be more Bulgarian than 
your father ? If he was to find out that you get newspapers 
from Sokoloff to read, he'd beat you to a jelly, for all that 
you're forty years old." 

M 



178 UNDER THE YOKE 

" Mother, it's not true ! I was thirty- five last Christmas. 
I ought to know how old I am." 

But this dialogue was interrupted by the servant-girl. 

" Mrs. Dona, will you come upstairs ? Father Yordan is 
worse," she said anxiously. 

" There you are — I told you so. My God ! " cried his 
wife, as she hurried to her husband, leaving her saucepan 
on the fire. 

As she ran upstairs she heard Yordan's cries of pain. He 
had suddenly been taken with colic in the room upstairs, 
and was writhing and tossing with anguish on the floor. 
His face was distorted and convulsed : loud and despairing 
groans issued from between the old man's clenched teeth, 
without, however, assuaging his sufferings : they filled the 
people of the house with dismay, and could be heard in the 
street. 

One of the workmen was immediately sent for Dr. Yaneli, 
but he had gone to K., and would not be back till evening. 
They then had recourse to domestic remedies. But neither 
compresses, nor friction, nor poultices were of any avail. 
The sufferer continued to writhe and groan with pain. 

Yordanitsa did not know what to do. 

" Shall we send for Dr. Sokoloff ? " she asked, turning 
inquiringly towards the sufferer. 

Stefchoff muttered something with an air of disapproval. 

" I sent for him last year myseff, and he did me good," 
she retorted. Then turning again to her husband, " Yordan, 
let me send for the doctor." 

Yordan made a sign of dissent with his hand, and went 
on groaning. 

" Do you hear ? I'm going to send for Dr. Sokoloff," 
repeated Yordanitsa, persuasively. 

" I won't have him," faltered out the old man. 

" You won't have him, but I won't listen to you ! " said 
Yordanitsa, resolutely. And, turning to one of the work- 
men, she said : 

" Chono, go and fetch Dr. Sokoloff at once ! " 

Chono rose and went to the door, but just as he reached 
the threshold a piercing cry from Yordan stopped him. 

" I won't have him ! — do you hear ? I won't have the 
rascally brigand in my house ! " 

Yordanitsa looked at him in despair. 

*' Do you want to die, then ? " she cried. 



A SPY IN 1876 1T9 

" Yes, I do ! Get out of my sight, d n you ! " roared 

the old man. 

Two hours later the crisis passed slowly away. When he 
saw the old man was better, Stefchoff dressed himself and 
left hurriedly for the Konak. 

CHAPTER IV : A SPY IN 1876 

When Stefchoff went into the room he found the Bey was 
not alone ; Samanoff was with him, and the two were 
playing at backgammon. 

Samanoff was the accredited spy of the Turkish Govern- 
ment, and drew his pay regularly at the Konak at Philippo- 
polis. He was a man of about forty -five years of age, 
but looked older. He had a huge, prematurely wrinkled 
face, dark and thin, hghted up by a pair of black 
eyes, which, though rather dim, were always on the 
move ; his expression was savage and repulsive. His 
moustaches were cropped short, and his hair fell in a 
dark and greasy mass from beneath his tall fez, which 
concealed his increasing baldness. He was dressed in a 
dark brown suit of the native tweed, very shabby, the 
black-cloth collar of which was shiny with grease. He 
was tall and powerfully built, but stooped considerably, as 
though under the weight of public execration. The whole 
appearance of the man was suggestive of poverty and 
cynicism. He usually lived at Philippopolis, but made 
frequent tours in the neighbourhood. He was a native of 
Bela Cherkva, and knew everybody. He, too, was known 
and dreaded by all who had any grounds for fearing 
detection. His arrival always struck dismay and aversion 
in those who met him, yet, though he knew this, it did not 
seem to affect him. He faced the most contemptuous 
glances boldly and fearlessly, as much as to say, " What 
then ? One trade is as good as another. I must live too." 
He had already met some of the principal residents and 
extorted money from them on pretence of a loan . Naturally 
no one ventured to refuse a request from so honourable a 
borrower and so amiable an acquaintance. He evidently 
knew that something was going on at Bela Cherkva, for he 
asked of every youth he met, with a diaboUcal smile, *' How 
are you getting on with your preparations ? " and in order 
to increase still more the confusion of his victim, he would 



180 UNDER THE YOKE 

add, " It'll all end in failure " : on which he would leave 
him in terror. With this ill-omened and malignant out- 
spokenness he drove every one from the streets as he 
passed by. 

Stefchoff's face beamed with satisfaction when he found 
his powerful ally seated with the Bey. He greeted them 
with a gratified and famihar salutation, and drew up a chair 
to watch the game, shaking hands with Samanoff as he 
did so. 

The old Bey, dressed in a short cloth coat lined with fur, 
continued to devote the utmost attention to his game, 
silently saluting Stefchoff as he came in. When the game 
was over, Stefchoff at once proceeded to business. He told 
the Bey in detail all that he had heard of the revolutionary 
effervescence which had again broken out at Bela Cherkva. 

The Bey had also heard something of some such move- 
ment on the part of the rayas, but he had considered it a 
childish affair, unworthy of attention, and had allowed it to 
go on unchecked, as was the cue of the Turkish authorities 
just then. 

Now, however, that Stef choff took the mask from his eyes 
he was surprised by the widespread nature of the evil. He 
turned sternly and inquiringly to Samanoff. 

" Petraki Effendi, what does this mean ? Everything's 
ablaze round us and we're playing at backgammon all the 
while ! " 

" I've only been here a few days myseK, but I know all 
that Kiriak's just told you, and more besides." 

" You know it, and you don't inform me of it ! Upon 
my word, you're a valuable servant of the State," cried the 
Bey, much dissatisfied. " This gentleman has sho\^Ti him- 
self to be a far more loyal subject of the Crown." 

"I've only done my duty, Bey Effendim." 

Samanoff's brow grew clammy. He said with much 
vexation : 

" Whatever there may be going on here, it's not a patch 
on what they're doing elsewhere. If there's a straw 
smouldering here, there's a haystack blazing towards 
Panaghiourishte. But the Imperial Government isn't deaf 
or blind — ^it knows what's going on — ^it's biding its time — it's 
got its reasons for it. It would be a great mistake for us to 
start the whole thing and compromise ourselves on the 
strength of a mere trifle. What we see at Bela Cherkva is 



A SPY IN 1876 181 

only the shadow of the smoke that's rising in clouds else- 
where. My opinion is that we should watch them carefully 
and do nothing rash." 

These words pleased the Bey, because they corresponded 
with his inclination for inactivity and his hatred of all 
responsibility. 

Stefchoff noticed this to his annoyance. He saw that 
Samanoff sought by means of this cunning explanation to 
conceal his own neghgence and want of zeal for the interests 
of the State. 

" Petraki Effendi talks at his ease," he said spitefully, 
" he has neither family nor interests here — ^he doesn't own 
a ragged carpet in the town. If there's an outbreak to- 
morrow, he's nothing to lose." 

"It's false, I protest," cried Samanoff, angrily. 

" You're right, Kiriak. I must have the cuckolds 
arrested at once," cried the Bey. 

Stefchoff's face was triumphant. 

" Well, on thinking it over, I'm of the same opinion. 
Let the donkeys be caught," said Samanoff with a sudden 
change of manner. 

" Then we're agreed," said the Bey, with a sigh of satis- 
faction. 

" Yes, let's have at them this very night,'* said Samanoff, 

" Where do they meet ? " asked the Bey. 

" At Micho Beyzade's." 

" At Beyzade's ? I see it all now. A man who's more 
Russian than the Russians must be a traitor. Is he their 
leader ? " 

" No, Doctor Sokoloff," answered Stefchoff. 

" What, Sokoloff again ? He's succeeded the Consul 
then ? " 

" The Consul's affair was mere child's play compared 
with this new business of Sokoloff's, Bey Effendim." 

" And who are the others ? " 

" Two or three dismissed schoolmasters and a few other 
vagabonds." 

" I know their names," said Samanoff, " and where their 
weapons are stored, and their agents at Panaghiourishte. 
They've got their own post. More than that, they've estab- 
lished a kind of government, which issues decrees, judges, 
and condemns to death. I've thought it over ; perhaps it 
will be best that wejshould show some activity and give an 



182 UNDER THE YOKE 

example to the other authorities, only we must go about it 
manfully. I'll search their pockets and put them through 
their first examination to-night myself . After that you may 
do what you like." 

Samanofif's face assumed a still more ill-omened expres- 
sion. His words greatly surprised the Bey, who at once 
changed his opinion of Samanoff ; he saw in him a zealous 
and trusty servant of the State. 

" I'll see that you're properly rewarded for this, Petraki 
Effendi," said the Bey in a protecting tone. 

Even Stefchoff was struck by the spy's knowledge of the 
organisation of the committee. He saw clearly that Sama- 
noff was now burning with impatience to prove his zeal and 
earn his reward, and had for this reason offered to take a 
prominent part in this dangerous business. This suited 
Stefchoff admirably, for he was still desirous to remain in 
the background so as not to be exposed to the vengeance of 
the revolutionists. 

The Bey looked at his watch. 

" Are they there now ? " he asked. 

" Yes, in the cellar. They meet in the garden when it's 
fine, and drink their raki while they talk treason." 

*' Well, what do you think ? " 

" They always leave Micho's house at nightfall. Let the 
zapties wait outside and arrest them as they come out, and 
then bring them here in a body." 

" That won't do," said Samanoff ; " you'U only arrest 
them without any proofs, and they can deny everything. 
No, they must be caught in the room at Micho's while they're 
sitting there, at the very scene of the crime, so to speak. 
Let's take them with all their papers, protocols, and other 
documents. Then, it'll be all as clear as day, black on 
white ; there'll be no denying it." 

This advice pleased the Bey. Even Stefchoff was de- 
lighted with the idea. The spy was a most able man, and 
his zeal was no less conspicuous than his ability. 

" Only we must wait till nightfall," added Samanoff ; 
" these raids can only be carried out in the dark." 

" That's settled," said the Bey triumphantly, as he 
clapped his hands. 

A zaptie appeared. 

" Is the on-bashi here ? " 

" Sherif Aga will be here directly, sir." 



A SPY IN 1876 183 

" Send him to me as soon as he comes in," said the Bey. 

The zap tie saluted and went out again. 

" Dear me, I was forgetting," said Stefchoff, as he turned 
to Samanoff ; the spy was plunged in thought, and the deep 
wrinkles in his brow seemed to bear witness to the dark 
designs which he was revolving in his inmost mind. 

Stefchoff drew a letter from his pocket, and unfolded it. 

" What's that ? " said Samanoff, suddenly awaking from 
his reverie. 

" A letter from Sokoloff to Panaghiourishte." 

" You don't say so ! " 

" It must have been dropped by some one. I found it 
in the street just by our house." 

" What does it say ? " asked Samanoff, bending over the 
letter. 

" It seems to be written in a secret code ; it's addressed 
to a certain Lonka Neichoff. He's quite a common 
peasant, a cobbler at Panaghiourishte, who passes through 
here every week on his way to the market at K. But I'm 
certain it's meant for some one else — most likely the 
committee at Panaghiourishte." 

" What's the paper you've got ? " asked the Bey inquisi- 
tively, for they had been talking Bulgarian. 

Stefchoff explained. 

" Read it, read it, and we'll see," said the Bey, preparing 
to listen attentively. 

Stefchoff read out the following lines : 

" Dear Lonka, — I hope you're all quite well again now, 
and that your wife's got over her illness. You must keep 
on giving her the pills you have from me. How's business 
with you ? It's more than a fortnight since I saw you, 
which I suppose is on account of your health. When you 
come back, buy me 10 piastres' worth of belladonna at 
Yanaki's pharmacy, as mine is run out. 

" Give my love to all your people. 

" (Signed) Sokoloff." 

" No doubt the letter's in code language," said Samanoff. 

" Now translate it into Turkish," said the Bey. 

" To tell you the truth, it means a great deal or nothing 
at all, according to how you understand it," said Stefchoff 
to the Bey, and proceeded to translate it. 



184 UNDER THE YOKE 

" Stop a minute," said the Bey at the very beginning, 
" by pills he must mean bullets." 

"Maybe it's bullets," acquiesced Samanoff. 

The Bey puffed vigorously at his cigarette with a proud 
and self-satisfied air and resumed his expectant attitude. 

Stefchoff continued. 

*' Hold hard," once more interrupted the Bey, " he asks 
how business is. I see it all — he means ' how are your 
preparations going on ? ' We're not such fools as he takes 
us to be." And the Bey winked significantly at Samanoff, 
as much as to say, " Don't you make any mistake — Husni 
Bey's an old fox, and you must get up very early in the 
morning to take him in." 

Stefchoff went on once more. When he came to the words 
" I suppose it's on account of your health," the Bey again 
stopped him and turned inquiringly to Samanoff. 

" Petraki Effendi, all this about illness and health seems 
a trifle obscure. What do you make of it ? " 

" I think that for * illness * we must read ' health ' and 
vice versa,'' said the spy with an air of importance 

The Bey became pensive. He assumed the air of a man 
who has fully understood the deep significance of this dark 
saying. 

" I think w^e've got 'em now," he said triumphantly. 

When Kjriak resumed his translation and reached the 
word " belladonna," the Bey started up with excite- 
ment. 

" Oh ! this time there's no doubt — it's quite clear — old 
Debela Bona's in it. Ah ! every time I see the old she- 
buffalo go past something tells me she's plotting against the 
State." 

The Bey was referring to a poor old woman, sixty-five 
years of age, known as Debela (Fat) Bona who passed by 
the Konak morning and evening, with unfailing regularity, 
on her way to church. 

Stefchoff and Samanoff smiled. They explained to the 
Bey that what was meant was a drug used in medicine. 

" Go on, go on," said the Bey, somewhat crestfallen. 

Stefchoff continued : 

" My love to all your people — Sokoloff . That's all, sir." 

The Bey cried : 

" My love to all your people. That's quite clear. In a 
word the letter smells of treason from beginning to end." 



A SPY IN 1876 185 

" Yes, but there's nothing to be made of it," said Stefchoff 
dissatisfied. 

" It is a trifle obscure," said Samanoff. 

" Obscure ! of course it's obscure," said the Bey ; " but 
we'll make the doctor himself explain what we can't under- 
stand." 

" Yes, but it would be interesting to find out what it all 
means beforehand," said Samanoff, gazing fixedly at the 
letter. " Give it to me — I'll decipher it. I've got a key at 
home for all revolutionary letters." And he put the letter 
away in his waistband. 

" That's right, Petraki Effendi." 

Stefchoff rose and bowed before taking his leave. 

" Then it's all settled ? " he asked. 

" Quite settled — for this evening," said the Bey ; " you 
can go to bed quietly — my kind regard to Chorbaji Yordan." 

Stefchoff left the Bey with a countenance beaming with 
satisfaction. As he got to the door of the Konak Samanoff 
caught him up. 

" You won't make any mistake this evening ? You'll 
superintend the raid on these gentlemen," said Stefchoff. 

" That's all right — don't you fret yourself," said the spy ; 
adding rapidly, " Kiriak, lend me a lira till to-morrow ; 
I'm a little short." 

Stefchoff frowned, and felt in his waistcoat pocket. 

" Here's a couple of roubles for you — that's all I have." 

Samanoff took the money, but added in a whisper : 

" Come, come, I must have more than this. If I was to 
whisper a word to Stranjoff of what you've been doing to- 
day, you'd find yourself in a pretty mess." And he smiled 
ominously. 

Stefchoff looked at him uneasily. 

" Samanoff," he said, " if I hear to-morrow that Sokoloff 
and his associates are under lock and key, you shall have 
ten liras from me, I give you my word." 

" Right you are. Now just give me three or four piastres 
small change to pay for my dinner ; I don't want to change 
the roubles this evening. Thanks. Good-bye." And 
Petraki turned do^vn a side street to go to the inn where he 
was staying. Just by Hajji Tsachoff's house he met Pope 
Stavoi, and stopped him. 

" Your blessing. Father ! " And he kissed his hand. 
" How are you ? How are things going with you ? Is the 



186 UNDER THE YOKE 

money coming in ? Which are you having most of just 
now — births or deaths ? " 

" Well, marriages, I think," answered the pope with a 
forced smile, trying to pass on, for the spy's piercing look 
terrified him. Samanoff grasped him by the hand, and 
gazed at him fixedly. 

" Nice time for marriages, this, when to-morrow or next 
day we may have another row." And he winked signifi- 
cantly at the pope. Then, suddenly changing the conversa- 
tion : " Father, can you lend me fifty piastres till to-morrow 
morning ? I'm rather hard up just now." 

The pope's face contracted. " A pope has no money. 
I'll give you as many blessings as you like," he said, trying 
to get off with this jesting rejoinder. 

Samanoff looked at him sternly, and said in a low tone : 

" Hand over the fifty piastres. Your son Gancho's 
secretary to the committee. I've only to say one word, and 
you're all done for." 

The pope grew deadly pale. He took out a coin, and 
left it in the other's hands, pretending to shake hands with 
him. 

" Good-bye, Father. Don't forget me in your prayers." 

" Anathema," muttered the pope as he moved away. 

The rain was still falling. 

" My boy, bring me a little live charcoal in a chafing-dish 
(mangal), will you ? " said Samanoff to the waiter who 
followed him into his bedroom. 

The waiter stared at him with surprise, as much as to say : 
" What can you want to warm yourself for this weather ?" 

" Now then, hurry up with that charcoal ! " repeated the 
spy, taking ofi his coat, which was drenched. 

The waiter brought some charcoal on a shovel, and placed 
it in a pan which he drew from under the bed. 

" That's right. You may go now ! " And he locked the 
door after the boy. 

He then took the letter from his waistband, unfolded it, 
turned the back of it — on which nothing v/as written — 
towards the fire, and waited patiently. When the paper 
was thoroughly heated he withdrew it, and examined it 
carefully : his face was expressive of lively curiosity mingled 
with satisfaction. The paper, which was quite white and 
clear a moment before, was now covered with thick yellow 
characters. As is well known, the letters sent by the 



THE CHERRY-TREE 187 

various committees were written in sympathetic ink, and 
the letters were visible only when the paper was warmed. 
On the other side they usually wrote a series of innocent and 
meaningless sentences, so as to throw the authorities off the 
scent in case the letter should fall into strange hands. But, 
as usual, a secret which is known to more than two persons 
is no longer a secret, and the vigilant Samanoff had long 
since found it out. 

The letter was signed by the vice-president, Sokoloff, and 
contained an account of the decisions and plans of the Bela 
Cherkva Committee. 

After he had attentively perused the fatal letter, an inde- 
finable smile appeared on Samanoff's repulsive countenance. 
He took out his pencil and wrote something on the blank 
space under the vice-president's signature. 

And he went out hurriedly towards the Konak. 

CHAPTER V : THE CHERRY-TREE 

Next morning the sun again shone forth brightly in the 
deep blue sky. 

The gardens were odorous with perfume, and the rose- 
buds were beginning to shed their fragrance around : the 
forest trees gaily crowned with white gave a festal appear- 
ance to every courtyard in Bela Cherkva ; the nightingale's 
note was everywhere audible, the swallows flashed through 
the air, rejoicing in the sun's rays. All nature was full of 
life and youth. Heaven and earth united to form a soul- 
rejoicing picture of vernal bloom and loveliness. 

At that moment Marko Ivanoff stopped at the bottom of 
a dark and quiet street at the outskirts of the town, and 
knocked at a door. 

It was at once opened by a strapping youth in peasant 
dress. 

" Is it here they've brought the trunk ? " asked Marko in 
a low voice. 

" Yes, yes, master ; come in," and the lad stepped back 
and pointed to a door. " There they are, walk in." 

Just then the door opened, and the first thing that Marko 
saw in the room was a trunk — ^the trunk of a cherry-tree. 

Kalcho, the goatherd (an old acquaintance of the reader's), 
mounted on a pile of wood, was busily engaged in hollowing 
out one end of the cherry-tree, which was firmly fixed below. 
His perspiring face showed that the task was no easy one. 



188 UNDER THE YOKE 

" Well done, Kalcho, my man ! " said Marko, watching 
the process with interest ; " you're getting on, I see." 

" Bless you, everything's easy when you know how to do 
it," said a voice. 

Marko turned to the left, and saw Micho Beyzade leaning 
against the wall. 

Chorbaji Micho Beyzade was a short dark man, dressed 
in loose Turkish knickerbockers and a woollen jacket. Like 
his contemporaries, he had had little or no education, but an 
active and eventful life had made him a man of wisdom and 
experience. His dark, twinkling eyes gave an intelligent 
look to his face, which was shrivelled up and seamed with 
many wrinkles. His peculiarity, which had become a by- 
word among his friends, was his unbounded partiality for 
politics, and his unshakable conviction that the fall of 
Turkey was at hand. Naturally, he was a Russophile, but 
to a fanatical, ridiculous degree. Every one remembered 
how one day at a school examination he had flown into a 
violent passion because a pupil had said that the Russians 
had been defeated at Sebastopol. " You're mistaken there, 
my lad," said Chorbaji Micho, angrily ; " Russia can't be 
defeated, you know ; you'd better ask the master who 
taught you to give you back the money you've paid him." 
But the teacher happened to be there, and proved, book 
in hand, that the Russians were defeated in the Crimean 
War. Micho cried out that his history was incorrect, and, 
as he was on the school-committee, he took care that the 
teacher was never engaged again. 

He Avas naturally of a nervous and excitable disposition, 
and lost his temper the moment anybody ventured to 
oppose his confirmed convictions. He would then flame 
with passion, and use the most uncomplimentary language 
to his opponents. To-day, however, he was cheerful 
enough. 

" Hallo ! Micho, how are you ? " said Marko courteously, 
holding out his hand to the president of the committee. 

" We've got a meeting on to-day, and I thought I'd come 
round on my way and see how Kalcho's getting on." 

" Where's your meeting to be, in the fields ? " asked 
Marko, sitting do\ATi with his eyes still fixed on the trunk. 

" It's to be at the Green Dell." 

The Green Dell was the name given to a valley on the 
bare hill to the north of the town, which was the first spur 



THE CHERRY-TREE 189 

of the Stara Planina. The committee changed its place 
of meeting every time. That day the Green Dell had been 
fixed upon. 

Kalcho, heated and perspiring, continued to bore away 
at the tree with a gigantic gimlet. He frequently withdrew 
the tool to clear away the shavings, looked down the hole, 
and went on again. The hole now reached to about the 
requisite point— that is to say, a foot from the thick end of 
the trunk, where the touch-hole was to be. Kalcho cleared 
the shavings out carefully, peeped down with one eye, blew 
through it, and looked at his visitors with an air of satis- 
faction. They also rose and looked down the cavity. 

" Why, it's big enough to take a ten-pound weight," said 
Micho, " but we'll fill it with shrapnel, it'll pohsh off all 
the more heathens. Your cherry-tree will do marvels." 

For the committee had decided that, in the absence of 
proper cannon, which it was found impossible to obtain, an 
attempt should be made to construct field-pieces out of the 
hollowed stems of cherry-trees, bound round with iron 
hoops, such as were said to have been used in the Polish 
and Carlist insurrections. 

Marko's face beamed with triumph. For, to tell the 
truth, the cherry-tree was from his garden. During the last 
few weeks, a complete change had taken place in Marko's 
ideas. The revolutionary effervescence which had broken 
out in Bela Cherkva had at length extended to him also. 
He began by taking an interest, next he was surprised, last 
of all his warmest sympathies were enlisted. If this kind of 
thing was going on everywhere, as they said, perhaps, after 
all, the whole of Turkey might catch fire, he thought. Was 
it not possible that the knell of the Empire had sounded, 
when even the very children thought only of arming them- 
selves ? Who knows — ^who knows ? This thought calmed 
his apprehensions and increased his confidence in the 
future. Resolute and sensible as he was, without the 
slightest imagination, at last he was overcome by the 
general excitement, and began to believe. The epidemic 
had extended even to that sober but honest Bulgarian 
soul. 

But this mental process was not accomplished in a 
moment. Firm convictions are obtained only through the 
influence of a whole series of facts and impressions. At first, 
the autumn before when he had £;een the growing savagery 



190 UNDER THE YOKE 

and atrocities of the Turkish population, he had thought to 
himself, " This life isn't worth living, it can't go on Hke 
this." 

It was the first step. 

Later on, that spring, after Kableshkoff's appearance, 
when he saw the excitement that reigned among the youths, 
who were so resolutely preparing for a hopeless but noble 
attempt, he said one day to his wife : 

" After all, who knows ? They may be mad, but the 
mad succeed sometimes." 

Finally at Easter, when they were talking at the cafe of 
the terrible difficulties in the way of such an attempt, and 
the awful consequences it might lead to, Marko said crossly 
to Alafranga : 

" Mikhalaki, a man who counts up the cost of the pipers 
and drummers never gets married at all." 

It should, however, be noted that Marko was in reality in 
favour of the preparation, but not of the revolt. He was 
not enthusiastic to the last degree, like Micho, nor had he 
such a blind and unshakable faith in the result of the 
struggle as to risk everything upon it, like Ognianoff . Bela 
Cherkva ought to be prepared, so as to repel the bashi-bo- 
zouks when they should attack it with the inhabitants of 
the numerous Turkish villages in the valley of the Strema. 
It was quite surrounded by them and they already eyed it 
askance. If the revolt broke out all over Bulgaria, that 
would be a different matter. But who could affirm that 
that would be so ? In any case, Bela Cherkva ought to be 
prepared. 

So he insisted on the armaments. Afterwards, time 
would Bhow, he said. Three days before Nikolai Netko- 
vitch had come to him and related his unsuccessful attempts 
to obtain the trunks of a few cherry-trees. 

" You can cut down my cherry-tree," he said. But 
whether through human egoism or through parental solici- 
tude, not unnatural indeed under the circumstances, he 
refused to allow his sons to have a hand in the matter. He 
wished them to be preserved from the torrent which he had 
been powerless to resist for himself. He wanted to do what 
was impossible. " One in the family is enough," he 
thought. The revulsion in his feelings had not become 
complete as yet, hence these hesitations and inconsistencies. 
In a word, Marko represented the moderate element in the 



THE CHERRY-TREE 191 

national party, an element worthy of respect everywhere 
save in revolutions, which seek to attain their ideal by 
violence and extremes. Sometimes it may act as a brake 
on the wheel, but too often its effect is unfelt. 

Kalcho was busily engaged in smoothing the inner surface 
of the cherry-tree, so as to make a real cannon of it. He 
completed the touch-hole, and blew through it while a 
stream of dust and shavings emerged from the mouth. 

" Well, that's Avhat you may call finished ! and a good 
account it'll give of the Turks, I'll be bound," said Kalcho, 
triumphantly. 

*' Well done, Kalcho, you'll be at the head of our artillery. 
Now all we want is Father Lilo, the smith, to put the iron 
hoops and caps on it, and then, there you are," said Micho. 

" My stars, what a noise it'll make," said Marko. 

" We'll put it on the hill above the Green Dell ; we can 
command the whole valley from there. Wherever they 
show themselves, we'll mow them down without mercy, it's 
a wonderful position." 

A sound of steps was heard outside. 

" It's one of us," said Micho, who had given the lad 
outside orders to admit no one who was not in the secret. 

Popoff, the secretary of the committee, appeared. He 
saluted Micho and Marko. 

" What is it, Gancho ? " asked the president. 

" I thought I'd look in on my way to the Green Dell to 
see how the artillery was getting on." 

" All right ! We must all be at the meeting to-day, to 
decide whom we're to send to Panaghiourishte. They 
want us to send a representative. I'm for Sokoloff." 

" What do they want a representative for ? " said Marko. 

" For the general assembly there." 

" General assembly ? What do you mean ? " 

" Why the assembly, man, that's going to decide when 
the revolt's to break out." 

" They'll probably fix upon the first of May," said Gancho. 

Marko started. 

" Oh, that's too soon. Better wait till the roses have 
been got in," remarked Micho. 

" What, are we going to rise then, too ? " 

" It'll break out everywhere on the same day." 

" Don't let's have any folly." 

" Folly or no folly, it's got to be," said Micho shortly. 



192 UNDER THE YOKE 

" You don't suppose we've been preparing all this time 
for nothing, do you ? " added Gancho. 

" I've always understood that we were arming only to 
defend ourselves against the bashi-bozouks, and to see what 
happens elsewhere. I'm very much afraid that we shall be 
left to pay the piper alone," said Marko. 

" It would be a shame and a disgrace for Bela Cherkva 
to delay for a moment — the whole nation will rise on one 
day — and Turkey will be done for ! " cried Micho excitedly. 

" Do you know positively that that's so ? " he asked. 

" Know ? Of course I do ; I'm not a child. That's 
why I've pressed you to join the committee — to read the 
letters with your own eyes, and to listen to what Kableshkoff 
says. Why, the very spies are with us. Look at this letter 
we got last night from Samanoff, written on the back of one 
of our owTL, which came into his hands. Lord knows how : 
it's a miracle, I tell you." 

The letter was the one we have already seen Samanoff 
explaining to the Bey, and afterwards deciphering by him- 
self. He had sent it back to the committee, to their dismay 
and subsequent relief, with the following lines on the back : 

*' Mr. Vice-President, — If I were you I would not leave 
my letters lying about in the street, where Stefchoff may 
find them. To-day I received this letter from him before the 
Bey, to whom we translated into Turkish the other side 
about the belladonna : this side I deciphered myself, alone, 
before the fire, so you need not be alarmed. Another storm 
was hanging over your heads for this evening, but it's 
passed over. You may thank me for that ; only you'd 
better meet somewhere else, and more secretly, in future. 
Good luck to you ! 

" The Bulgarian traitor and spy, 

" Petraki Samanoff." 

It should be added that the unfortunate Samanoff had 
never as a matter of fact been guilty of political treachery 
so far, all rumours to the contrary notwithstanding ; he had 
undertaken the spy's calling with the sole aim of getting 
money from the Turks as well as the Bulgarians. In order 
to levy blackmail upon the latter he had used countless 
threats, but he never went further than that. Self-respect 
he had none, but conscience was still alive within him. 



THE CHERRY-TREE 193 

Clearly he had not been intended by nature for a spy, but 
circumstances had remorselessly driven him into that 
tortuous path. Before returning the letter to the com- 
mittee he had skilfully persuaded the Bey to postpone 
the police raid. 

He eventually died in prison in Asia, just as the San 
Stefano amnesty was signed. 

Marko shook his head distrustfully. 

" It's one thing to know something's going to happen, and 
quite another for people to tell you so. Think well over it 
before doing anything rash. Don't let us have a second 
Stara Zagora." 

Micho lost his temper. 

" This is a different thing altogether, Marko. Don't be a 
child. I tell you the whole country '11 be ablaze. Every- 
thing's arranged and organised — ^they've only to tell us the 
day." 

" Well, if the whole country's ablaze, I'll take my gun too. 
But suppose we're the only ones ? That's what I want to 
get at." 

" We shan't be the' only ones — ^the whole country '11 
rise ! " 

"Who knows?" 

" I tell you it will, Marko. Do you want me to take my 
oath to it ? " 

" No." 

" You're a regular unbelieving Thomas." 

" I want to feel it with my finger, like he did. We're 
staking our heads, man ! " 

" Make up your mind to it — ^we're bound to conquer ! " 

" Why ? " 

" Because Turkey must fall — ^the time's come." 

" Why must it fall ? " 

" Because it's written that Turkey must fall ! " 

Marko thought that Micho was as usual alluding to the 
prophecies of Martin Zadek, a Russian " Old Moore " who 
was perpetually preaching the downfall of the Ottoman 
Empire. 

" I don't believe in these new prophecies. The almanack 
prophesies rain and storm, and the weather's perfect — it's 
all bosh." 

" No, no, Marko, Zadek's a different thing altogether — 
even the learned beheve in him," said Micho earnestly. 



194 UNDER THE YOKE 

" Oh bother ! it's always Zadek — can't you leave Zadek 
alone ? " 

Micho flared up. 

*' If you won't have Zadek, I'll show you another 
prophecy still deeper and clearer than even Zadek's ! " 

" Whose is it ? " 

" It's from the Divine Providence. Only the Holy Ghost 
can have inspired it. No human mind can have found it 
out." 

And Micho began to fumble in his coat-pocket. 

Marko watched him with surprise. 

" Dear, dear — I've left my pocket-book at home," said 
Micho, much vexed — " but never mind, I think I can 
remember it. If this won't convince you that Turkey's 
doomed, I shall wash my hands of you. A deaf man can't 
hear the sound of the big drum." 

And Micho took out his writing-case, dipped his pen in 
the ink, and again began to search his pockets. 

" Have you got a bit of blank paper about you ? " 

" No," said Marko, after searching in his own pocket. 

" Never mind, I can write here." 

And Micho bent over the cannon and began to write on 
the smooth planed surface at the butt end. 

Marko watched him with curiosity. 

Soon certain signs appeared — they consisted of Church- 
Slav characters with their equivalents in arable numerals * 
in regular alternation — ^in the following order : 

T( = 30o)y( = 4oo)P( = ioo)H( = 9oo)I(==io)A(^i) 
K(-20)E( = 5) 

n( = 8o)A(=i)A( = 4)H( = 5o)E(=;.5) 
These letters, read in words, formed the following sentence : 
Typi^'ia Ke naAne — Turkey will fall : the figures added up 
denoted the fateful year 1876 ! 

Who was it who first discovered this marvellous combi- 
nation ? Who first rescued from obHvion this ray of fight, 
this inexpficable freak of chance ? No one ever knew. 
The younger people laughed at it as a mere capricious 
coincidence — the older spoke of it as a revelation. Thus 
prejudice or superstition explains what reason is unable to 
understand. 

* In the Slavonic alphabet, as instituted by SS. Kiril and Metod, each 
letter has a numerical equivalent, as in the Greek and other alphabets. 



THE CHERRY-TREE 195 

Micho Beyzade supplied the key to the double sense of 
the enigma — ^Marko's waverings were at an end. 

He was speechless with surprise. 

Micho's triumph was complete. A proud self -satisfaction 
beamed from his black eyes, and the faint sarcastic smile 
with which he gloated over Marko's amazement seemed to 
express pity for his unbelief — and triumph — and joy — and 
enthusiasm all at once . He seemed to say to Marko, ' ' Now, 
then, let's hear what you've got to say ! Martin Zadek's no 
good — but how about this, eh ? What do you think of 
Beyzade now ? " 

While the two notables were discussing the point, several 
of the members of the committee had come in unobserved. 
They had also looked in on their way, to superintend the 
completion of the Bela Cherkva Krupp. The others soon 
followed in the same casual manner, so that all the members 
of the committee were there, except Dimo Bezporteff. 

" I can't find Bezporteff anywhere to-day," said Ilia 
Stranjoff ; " he must have fallen asleep in some dram shop." 

" Ah ! it's a bad thing to get drunk aimlessly like that," 
remarked Pope Dimcho, as he took a pull at his pocket 
flask of raki. 

The members could not sufficiently admire or praise the 
new gun. It lay before them like some great monster with- 
out head or feet, with one eye in its back and a frightful 
gaping mouth, ready to vomit forth fire and lead. On its 
bright new surface could be read the cabalistic words written 
by Micho — the " mene, tekel, upharsin " of the Ottoman 
Empire : 

" Turkey will fall— 1876." 

" Boys," said the president, " didn't we agree to meet at 
the Green Dell to-day ? " 

" Yes, yes ; let's be off ! " 

" But here we are all together ? Why not hold the meet- 
ing here ? If you ask me, I prefer this, especially with that 
before us," pointing to the gun. 

The president's proposal met with universal approval. 

" Well, then, let's begin." 

" But where are you going to sit ? " 

" Here's my armchair," said Micho, mounting on the gun. 

And the sitting commenced. 



196 UNDER THE YOKE 

CHAPTER VI : MARKO'S PRAYER 

Marko left Kalcho's workshop deep in thought : what he 

had seen and heard there had made a great impression on 

him. 

" Who knows ? Avho knows ? " he thought, as he passed 
through the market-gardens which abounded at that side of 
the town. 

He went along by the river, to the east of Bela Cherkva, 
where it pours down, with many a foaming cascade, from 
the Balkan. There he cast a glance at his own kitchen 
garden arid the hole, not yet filled up, where the cherry-tree 
had stood ; he smiled grimly at the sight. From there he 
turned back through the gardens towards the principal 
street in the town, which joined the road to K. As he 
passed by the cabins of the carpet-weavers, in the dusty 
plain at the outskirts of the town, he saw a great Khoro* in 
full swing. There was evidently a wedding in the neighbour- 
hood, and all the poor and hard-working population seemed 
to have joined in the festivities, for the Khoro was unusually 
long. 

" That's the way of the world ! " he thought to himself ; 
" over there they're getting cannon ready, and here they're 
marrying without a thought of the morrow." 

But he at once observed that the revolutionary element 
was not unrepresented even here : the dance was being con- 
ducted by Bezporteff , an ardent patriot, though too fond of 
the bottle, who, although slightly lame, was a renowned 
dancer. He was waving a white handkerchief as he danced 
— in a somewhat wild and eccentric fashion, it must be con- 
fessed — ^and imparted to the endless human chain, which 
followed him, the strangest figures and windings — at one 
moment the Khoro formed an irreproachably regular semi- 
circle, at another it wound round him hke a sleeping serpent, 
and again it untwisted and extended in a straight line or 
took some other fantastic shape. The broad soles of his 
shoes came down with a vigorous stamp at every new figure. 

Marko slowly approached the Khoro, which was at its 
height, and then observed that Bezporteff was very drunk 
and was tugging the whole column after him with such 
ardour that one would have thought he was leading the 
assault on some fortress. His enthusiasm had spread to 
* Kioro, the national dance of Bulgaria. 



MARKO'S PRAYER 197 

the farthest extremity of the column, where the five-year-old 
children were. At his bidding the musicians had ceased 
playing, and the dancers themselves sang as they danced, 
keeping time with the song. Marko heard the following 
verse of the song : 

Kalina, can you tell me, dear, 
Will brother Kolio come to-day ? 
Will brother Kolio come to-day 
And bring a birthday-gift for you ? 
A necklace for your neck so white, 
A waistband for your waist so slim, 
A kerchief for your hair so bright, 
And slippers for your tiny feet. 

And the dance went on with fresh vigour. 

Marko stopped beneath the eaves of the smithy to rest a 
little and enjoy the gay sight. 

Suddenly Bezporteff noticed him. He at once left the 
Khoro and hastened towards him, still waving his handker- 
chief and keeping time to the music. On his pale, elongated 
and bony face, with its red moustache and twinkling grey 
eyes, was depicted a certain wild glee and excitement 
produced by intoxication. 

" Hurrah ! Marko ! Hurrah for you and for Bulgaria ! 
and all her brave sons ! Stand us a glass of wine, Marko. 
Thanks ! Hurrah ! Beg pardon, Marko, I'm as drunk as 
I can be — that's so — but I know what I'm about. Yes, I'm 
a true Bulgarian. I see the sufferings of the nation — that's 
why I say, ' We've had enough slavery and drunkenness : 
we'd better die than go on like this.' They may say : 
' You're as drunk as a Russian sapojnik ' (cobbler). Who- 
ever says that is a traitor. My heart's sore for Bulgaria, 
that poor slave of the Turks . All we want is our rights — the 
rights of humanity. ' We seek not fame nor riches, we 
seek not land nor wives.'* But you may say people do get 
married, how about that ? Well, I answer, that's the way 
of the world. If the word's given to-morrow : Forward, 
march, set fire to your houses, and off we go to the Balkan ! 
A man who's afraid of the birds doesn't sow millet — you 
know what I mean ! Long live all patriots like you — I'd 
kiss their hands and their feet. But as for Yordan Chorbaji 

* These are the first two lines of a patriotic song by M. StambolofE, 
the famous Prime Minister of Bulgaria. 



198 UNDER THE YOKE 

— I'd like to give him a good hiding with my belt. And 
Stef choff ? the devil take the fellow ! . . . But a dog may 
sleep under a rock — sooner or later. Why, I'm as drunk 
as a — ^as a . . . It's love for my country that makes me 
drunk. The hour's nigh. I'm alive to-day — but to- 
morrow I may be dust — ashes — ^nothing. It's a fool of a 
world, and that's the truth. And whoever dies for the 
nation \^'ill live for ever and ever. Hooray ! long live 
Bulgaria ! And what am I ? an ass who's afraid of cold 
water." 

Bezporteff stopped suddenly, for he saw that a Turk was 
riding by on horseback, an unusual sight of late. Pointing 
to the Turk, he began to sing : 

On to the struggle : the enemy draws near ; 
Beats every heart, hut it heats not from fear ! 
Courage, the hrave hand grows stronger and stronger, 
We'll he submissive rayas no longer ! 

" Forward, forward ! " cried Bezporteff, as though he 
was urging on some invisible band, and rushed at the 
Turk. 

The Turk, seeing Bezporteff making for him, stopped. 

Bezporteff reached him, seized his arm, and cried : 

" Turk, where are you going ? How dare you pollute 
this sacred soil ? This soil is Bulgarian — your country is 
not here, but in the wilds of Asia. Be off there at once ! 
Down, you brute, and kiss this soil. If you don't, the devil 
take your Sultan, and his pages, and his paramours ! " 

The Turk did not understand what Bezporteff said, but he 
saw that he was very drunk : he became alarmed and 
spurred his horse, but Bezporteff caught at the bridle. 

" What do you want, Chorbaji ? " asked the Turk, in 
dismay. 

" Get do\vn or I'll drink your blood," shouted Bezporteff 
fiercely, as he drew his glittering knife. 

The Turk had some weapon or other in his belt, but he 
forgot it, and got down trembling and submissive. 

" What do you want, Chorbaji ? " he repeated, terrified 
by the vindictive look of his assailant. 

" Where are you going, Turk ? " 

" To K." 

" And when are you going to Mecca ? " 



MARKO'S PRAYER 199 

The Turk lost his presence of mind entirely — his voice 
seemed to stick in his throat — ^he could scarcely falter out : 

" Chorbaji, leave me alone." 

" Come along and we'll go to Mecca together," raved 
Bezporteff ; " wait till I get on your back — you've ridden on 
the Bulgarians for a thousand years." And Bezporteff 
nimbly leaped on his back and clasped him tightly round 
the neck — " now then, step out, for Mecca ! " he cried. 

And before the whole crowd, amid shouts and laughter, 
the Turk set out, spurred on by Bezporteff. 

The horse followed its master sadly. 

" Who knows ? who knows ? " thought Marko to himself 
on his way home — he had not yet recovered from the shock 
of surprise caused by the events he had just witnessed. 
He had lived for fifty years, and could remember the time 
when Bulgarians were forbidden to wear green, and were 
obliged to dismount if they met a Turk : he had himself 
seen, undergone, endured so many degradations as a raya 
that now he could not beheve his eyes. He saw that 
before the whole crowd, in sight of a thousand spectators, 
a Turk had dismounted from his horse at the bidding of a 
lame, drunken Bulgarian ; that this Turk had forgotten his 
weapons and his nationality and had submitted to be ridden 
by Bezporteff like a beast of burden through the town. 
And all this so simply, so suddenly — so terribly suddenly ! 
And yet it was not altogether by chance, or a mere drunken 
frolic — it would have been impossible a day before — to-day 
it was possible, and every one applauded as if it were the 
most natural thing in the world. What did all this mean ? 
Why was the raya so bold, and the ruling race so submissive 
to-day ? Had the death knell of the Empire really rung, 
and were Beyzad^ and the youngsters right after all ? 

" Who knows — who knows ? " 

In his reverie he stopped to look at the children just 
released from school. They were Merdivenjieff's pupils, 
and were formed in a long column two abreast. They kept 
step as they marched, like soldiers, under the command of 
officers who marched at the side : the general was at the 
head. Marko's Asen held a stick with a red handkerchief 
tied to it — this was their flag. 

Marko stood amazed. 

" They've all gone mad, from the old greybeards to the 
very school-children ! " he thought, " all gone mad ! " 



200 UNDER THE YOKE 

He took Asen by the ear, and asked him with a smile : 

" And what's that you're carrying, you young monkey ? " 

This reminded him that, at any rate, his elder children 
had remained unscathed, that he had not noticed the same 
fermentation of spirit among them as had spread to every 
one else, himself included. 

" Thank goodness, they're out of it at least. God bless 
'em ! I'm in for it, that's quite enough ! " 

But a bitter thought occurred to him ; he added sadly : 

" What, haven't the rascals got blood in their veins ? 
Have I brought them up to be traders ? But no — ^no — let 
'em keep aloof, one in a house is enough." 

The sun was just approaching the meridian. 

Marko reached his home uneasy and annoyed, went into 
his room, and examined his pistols which were hanging on 
the wall. Next he opened a large closet concealed behind 
the door, with the intention of putting new flints to two 
old pistols which had come down from his grandfather, and 
long ago had been thrown aside as useless. The closet was 
quite dark ; he tried to feel for what he wanted, but it was 
impossible ; he had to light a candle to see — when he 
brought the light, what was his surprise ! Instead of the 
two old pistols, he found an array of guns, pistols, and 
revolvers, a complete arsenal ; at the same time it seemed to 
be a kind of mihtary store — in a comer hung heavy cartridge- 
cases, sandals, boots, uniforms of European cut trimmed and 
braided, and other strange and suspicious-looking articles. 

He called grandmother Ivanitsa, who at once appeared. 

" Why, mother, who's been opening the closet ? Who's 
been up to all these games, I should like to know ? " 

The grandmother looked at him with surprise. 

" Who's been opening it ? Do you think I have ? Why, 
all of them, Vasil, Dimitr, Kiro, they're all in and out the 
whole day up to something. Who knows what they're 
doing in there in the dark ? " 

Marko became confused. 

" The devil take the young brigands," he cried, scratching 
his head. 

He examined carefully, with the light, the contents of the 
closet, and muttered, with an indescribable expression on 
his face : 

" Mad— mad ! God bless 'em ! " 

And he closed the door again. 



A NATION INTOXICATED 201 

He went straight to the eikonostasis, and knelt humbly 
before the image of the Saviour. He was uttering some 
prayer not to be found in his missal. He was praying for 
Bulgaria ! 

For the first time in his life he was praying for Bulgaria ! 



CHAPTER VII : A NATION INTOXICATED 

In truth, as spring went on, the revolutionary movement 
made giant strides. The whole of Western Thrace, where 
the excitement was most general, resembled a huge volcano, 
the dull rumbling of which announced the coming eruption. 
A stream of apostles and agitators traversed mountain and 
plain and organised the contest. Everywhere they met 
with the same welcome — everywhere arms were opened to 
receive them, hearts to absorb their words — the whole 
nation thirsted after the stirring language of freedom, and 
was impatient to bear its cross to the new Golgotha. A 
long list of workers had already prepared the soil, and had 
even sown there the seeds of a love for freedom. These 
workers, beginning from Paissi, a monk, and ending with 
Levski, a deacon — both saints — ^had sown and watered the 
field ; the former had shed upon it his blessing from Mount 
Athos, the latter from the gallows. Twenty years before, 
Rakoffski had ventured in a village to advocate the revolt — 
he had to fly for his life, disguised in woman's dress, from 
the fury of the villagers. Now, when villagers heard that 
an apostle was coming, they sent out deputations to welcome 
him and herald his approach. They listened, they swallowed 
thirstily every word of that life-inspiring speech, even as the 
parched throat does the refreshing draught. In response to 
the appeal, " Be ready, we must die ! " the church gave its 
pope, the school its teacher, the field its ploughman, the 
mother her son. The idea struck its roots everywhere with 
invincible force — it spread over all alike — over Balkan and 
valley, over the hut of the poor shepherd and the cell of the 
monk. Even the Chorbajis, who formed a close caste 
opposed to all national development, even these fell under 
the sway of the idea with which every brain was on fire. 
True, they took a comparatively small part in the patriotic 
movement, but they did not hinder it, for they did not 
betray it. Treachery and baseness were rife enough later, 
but after the catastrophe, as always happens in such cases. 



202 UNDER THE YOKE 

In vain would certain writers, blinded by party spirit, seek 
to claim a monopoly of patriotic ardour only for the sheep- 
skin clad and shod peasant, in defiance of historical truth. 
No, the revolutionary spirit, like a flaming seraph, spread 
its wings over peasant and university student — kalpak and 
fez, priest's cap and tall hat alike. As in all the progressive 
struggles of Bulgaria, science and the cross were in the front 
rank. The martyrology of modem Bulgarian history pro- 
claims this truth. True, the principal contingent, as at all 
times, was furnished by the mass of the people. But it gave 
what it could — that is, numbers. Thought and soul could 
only be supplied by the intelligence. So the effervescence 
increased daily and sprea4 over everything. Every day it 
assumed greater dimensions and acquired fresh strength, 
The preparations went on with unremitting ardour ; young 
and old displayed equal zeal. The peasants left their fields 
untilled to cast bullets, the citizens neglected their business. 
Secret posts went day and night between the different com- 
mittees and the central committee at Panaghiourishte ; 
young lads spent the day in drilling with their guns, under 
the command of centurions and decurions ; the women 
knitted stockings, made cartridges, and baked biscuit ; the 
bootmakers worked only at knapsacks, cartridge cases, mili- 
tary boots and such revolutionary gear ; even the village 
mayors, vekils, and other local functionaries eagerly took 
part in the preparations . In every village the depot of arms, 
bullets and gunpowder grew larger daily — the gunpowder 
was supplied by the Turks themselves — cherry-trees, hol- 
lowed out, planed, and fitted with iron hoops, formed the 
artillery. The silken standard embroidered with lions, 
fancifully braided uniforms, bright ecclesiastical vestments, 
and crosses were the adornments of the impending contest. 
The influence of this general infatuation was felt even in the 
children's games : tops, hoops, kites were left for the more 
thrilling joys of playing at soldiers with wooden swords and 
guns. The old people, amazed, said it was a visitation of 
God. In truth, it was the only divine manifestation by 
which people were persuaded to join in the movement, if we 
except the miraculous logogram, " Turkey will fall — 1876," 
which spread rapidly abroad and convinced the most scepti- 
cal. That year, spring was extraordinarily early ; the whole 
of Thrace resembled the Garden of Paradise. The rose- 
gardens were one mass of scented bloom, more luxuriant 



A NATION INTOXICATED 203 

than ever before or since. Field and vineyard alike pro- 
mised miraculous harvests, destined, alas ! to rot unreaped. 

As for the inaction of the Turkish Government, in face of 
such open and unconcealed agitation, such boisterous pre- 
parations for the revolt, it is to be explained only by their 
blindness and utter contempt of the despised raya. 
" They're merely hares at play," said the complacent 
Effendis. " They're only the Hurrahers . . . ," * said 
the haughty rulers, smiling grimly and contemptuously. 
There are words which mark an epoch. The " Hurrahers " 
were the expression of the awakening of the nation when it 
emerged victorious from the thirty years' struggle for its 
ecclesiastical autonomy. But the hurrahers who saluted 
with their cheers the establishment of the Bulgarian Exar- 
chate in 1870 had in 1876 become revolutionaries, and pre- 
pared bullets and cannons to welcome Bulgarian liberty. 

The Turks, however, could not discern the change : they 
were unable to march with the times or to see the progress 
in the ideas of the people. Indeed, if they had understood, 
it was now too late — their dungeons were not vast enough, 
their fetters too short, to curb the gigantic idea, the invisible 
*' King Marko " | lurking in the mountains. 

Posterity will be astonished — nay, the very contempo- 
raries of the age, with a whole series of historical examples 
before them, stand aghast before this moral intoxication, 
this sublime infatuation of a people preparing to contend 
with a mighty empire still great in its miUtary resources — 
preparing with the hope, too, of victory, and with such 
means, ineffectual even to a point of ridicule, ready to take 
the field in the very " jaws of hell," as Marko Ivanoff had 
said not long before, without seeking for any ally save its 
own enthusiasm — a will-o'-the-wisp, which flames and dies 
out, a phantom, an illusion. History has but rarely fur- 
nished an example of such self-confidence — verging on mad- 
ness. The Bulgarian national spirit has never risen to s^ h 
heights, and may never again repch them. 

Especial attention has been devoted to this prelude of the 
struggle, for it alone is striking, and may be taken as the 

* An allusion to the boisterous crowds whose loud acclamations 
heralded the establishment of the Exarchate and the liberation of 
the Bulgarian Church from Greek domination in 1870. The Turkish 
expression is " Dajiveijilerdendir " from " Dajiv6i," the Bulgarian 
" Hurrah ! " 

t A Bulgarian legendary *' King Arthur." 



204 UNDER THE YOKE 

example of a great idea fostered in a fertile and favourable 
soil. The struggle itself by which it was followed was 
unworthy of the very name. 

Nor will it be described in these pages. The story is 
naturally taken up with a single episode of the contest, 
which follows later, and which gives a glimpse of the 
revolution, that utter downfall of the brightest hopes. 

CHAPTER VIII : TROUBLE UPON TROUBLE 
Rada's departure for Klissoura had been quite sudden and 
unexpected. The day after her meeting with Boicho, she 
had found a peasant from KUssoura waiting for her : he 
was returning in his cart from K. and had been requested 
by Boicho, whom he had met on the road, to drive Rada to 
Klissoura : so she set out with him in haste. It was not 
altogether a sorrow for her to leave Bela Cherkva, for she 
had of late been pursued by the attentions of the Russian 
student, Kandoff, who had also joined the revolutionary 
committee. All her attempts to escape from his persistence 
had been unavailing. While she still mourned for Boicho 's 
loss she could not listen to Kandoff, and now that her 
lover was restored to her these attentions were doubly 
distasteful. Moreover, the loss of her only friend, Lalka, 
deprived her of the only companion she had in the town, 
where she had suffered so much already,.^. 

She took up her abode with Gospojsf Mouratliska, who 
had not long before settled at Klissoura. The good woman 
had readily granted Ognianoff's request to take in the 
homeless girl. 

The windows of the house looked northwards upon the 
whole town of Klissoura, the valley, and the Stara Plajiina. 
The majestic peak of Ribaritsa (known hereabouts as 
Vejen), which still wore its winter coronal of snow, towered 
above the city nestling on its southern slopes : here and 
there the flocks of the nomad Wallachian shepherds grazed 
on the grassy hillocks, which were dotted with the roughly 
enclosed perSolds : to the east the town was surrounded by 
high jagged rocks and crumbling ravines — in part bare, in 
part covered with vineyards and rose-gardens. A narrow 
path wound its way to the summit and led to the heights 
beyond, kno%\Ti as Zli Dol, over which passed the road to 
the valley of the Strema. Klissoura was surrounded by 



TROUBLE UPON TROUBLE 205 

hills on the other two sides also : it nestled in a deep valley, 
covered with verdure and fruit-trees and rose-gardens 
which filled the air with their perfume. In winter it was 
lonely and mournful, but now it was a dehghtf ul spot, shady, 
cool, and fragrant. 

KandofE reached KKssoura the day after Rada, and 
proceeded to the house of a relative, on a visit — a specious 
pretence for being near Rada. 

The next day he called on Rada. His visit overwhelmed 
her with confusion, which was heightened by rumours of 
the impending outbreak of the revolt at Koprivshtitsa and 
her ignorance of Boicho's whereabouts. In her affliction 
Kandoff's coming was most ill-timed. 

*' Why, Gospodin Kandoff, how is it you're here ? What's 
the matter ? " she asked uneasily. 

" They talk of rebellion," said Kandoff dryly. 

" Whatever's going to happen ? My God ! and Boicho 
isn't here. Nothing's been heard of him." 

KandofE looked listlessly out of the window towards the 
Ribaritsa. 

" And what do you think, Gospodin Kandoff ? " asked 
Rada impatiently. 

" What, I ? " 

" Yes ! " 

" About the rebellion ? " 

" Yes, about the rebellion." 

He answered carelessly, without even turning towards her: 

" The rebellion, the rebellion ? Oh, they'll fight, guns 
will be fired, people will be killed, all for the liberation of 
Bulgaria." 

" And how about Klissoura ? " 

'' I suppose there will be fighting here too ; it doesn't 
matter.'* 

" What do you mean, it doesn't matter ? And you ? " 

" Oh, it doesn't matter about me." 

Kandoff answered with the same indifference as if he 
was describing the customs of the people of New Zealand. 
But black despair was hidden under this apparently listless 
manner, this cold indifference to the events which would 
decide the fate of Bulgaria. However, neither he nor Rada 
felt this. 

" And what will you do when the insurrection breaks 
out ? " asked Rada. 



206 UNDER THE YOKE 

" I'll do whatever is necessary." 

'' What do you mean ? Won't you fight ? " 

" There's only one thing for me to do, Rada, and that's 
to die," answered Kandoff gloomily. 

Just then there was a low knock at the door, repeated 
thrice. 

" Boicho ! " cried Rada, as she ran to open. 

Ognianoff entered, disguised as a peasant, dusty and 
footsore. He was on his way back from Panaghiourishte. 
He had been present at the general meeting at Mechka, 
where the first of May had been decided upon for the out- 
break of the revolution. He was now hurrying to Bela 
Cherkva to take the last measures necessary for the pre- 
parations during the few days which still remained, and to 
raise the standard of revolt at Bela Cherkva on the ap- 
pointed day. He was passing through Klissoura to take 
a last farewell of Rada. But just as he reached the house at 
the outskirts of the town, which served as a refuge for the 
apostles, he found a letter from Bela Cherkva : he hurried 
to Rada before seeing any one else. 

He stood still, and threw a cold piercing glance at 
Kandoff, who stood quietly at the window. 

Rada murmured a few words expressive of her joy at his 
arrival, but when she saw Ognianoff's altered countenance, 
she stood as if transfixed. 

" I must apologise for disturbing your conversation at 
this early hour," said Ognianoff, deadly pale, with a bitter 
smile. 

He scarcely looked at Rada. 

" Boicho, what is it ? " she asked, in a quivering voice, 
advancing towards him. 

" Come, come, miss, we've had enough of pretence : this 
is shameful," said Ognianoff coldly. 

She rushed towards him to embrace him. He turned 
away. 

" You must really spare me these tokens of tenderness," 
and turning to Kandoff, he said in tones that quivered with 
emotion : 

*' Gospodin Kandoff, I cannot find words to thank you 
for your courtesy in responding to an invitation to come 
all the way from Bela Cherkva." 

His anger would not allow him to proceed. 

Kandoff turned from the window. 



TROUBLE UPON TROUBLE 207 

" Livitation ? What do you mean ? " he asked coldly. 
" What do you mean, Boicho ? " repeated Rada in amaze- 
ment. " Mr. KandofE has come to stay with his relations. 

He " 

She broke down and burst into tears. 
It was the first time she had ever been obliged to tell a 
falsehood, unavoidably, against her will. During their short 
meeting at Bela Cherkva she had not had time to tell him 
of Kandoff's strange attentions, which she did not venture 
to repel. And now Ognianoff found him in her room, and at 
this early hour. Evidently something must have reached 
his ears of the student's visits, and some accursed chance 
had contributed to fortify his doubts before she had time to 
dispel them. 

Rada hoped that Kandoff would say something to free her 
from her difficulties, but he remained silent. 

" Gospodin KandofE, can't you tell me something that 
will amuse me ? " asked Ognianoff spitefully, with a con- 
temptuous glance at his rival. 

" I've nothing to say — I'm listening to you," answered 
the student coldly. 

" Oh ! this is disgraceful ! " cried Ognianoff, eyeing both 
of them. 

Kandoff grew still paler than before. His wounded pride 
pierced through his gloomy apathy. 
" Ognianoff ! " he cried fiercely. 

" Shout a little louder — try and frighten me ! " answered 
Boicho in the same tone. He was trembling with rage. 

Rada forced herself between them in terror, lest he should 
commit some rash act ; she knew his impetuous character. 
'' My God ! Boicho, what are you about ? Wait till I 
explain everything," she cried in tears. 
Ognianoff cast a withering glance at her. 
" It's not worth while, Rada ; don't stoop to shed tears, 
crocodile's tears, that you're always so ready with. I 
thought, poor fool, that you were innocence itself. I've 
wasted so much love on you — I've thrown my heart into the 
street. What bhndness ! " 

" Boicho ! " cried Rada, sobbing in despair. 
" That will do — tiiere's nothing more between us hence- 
forth. The mask has fallen. What infatuation ! To think 
you could love a vagabond like me, with only torture and 
the gallows to look forward to, when there are chivalrous 



208 UNDER THE YOKE 

lovers waiting for you, with sounding phrases, deep learning, 
and loyal sentiments ! My God ! what a base world 
this is ! " 

He turned to the door. 

" Ognianoff, take back the words you've said ! " cried 
Kandoff, following him. 

Ognianoff stopped. 

" Take them back ? I repeat them — ^it's base and dis- 
graceful ! It's a foul abuse of friendly confidence. Do you 
deny the evidence of my own eyes ? " he cried, with a glance 
of scorn and hatred. 

" Take back your words, or death ! " roared the student, 
boiling over with passion. 

*' Death ? that can only frighten revolutionaries who wish 
to save Bulgaria from behind a woman's petticoats ! " 

Kandoff rushed at OgnianofiE and tried to strike him on 
the head. All his long pent-up sufferings and tortures 
gushed forth in a flow of rage against the man who had 
indirectly been the cause of them. 

Ognianoff was a powerful man. He flung Kandoff back 
against the wall, and took two revolvers from his belt. 

" I won't fight like a street-porter — take this pistol," and 
Ognianoff handed him the weapon. 

Rada, in a frenzy of fear and despair, opened the window 
that looked on to the street, and screamed aloud in the 
hope of attracting the attention of the passers-by. 

At that moment the sound of the church bells burst out, 
loud and ominous. Their echoing ring pierced the air. 
Ognianoff stood motionless, as he held the pistol towards 
his opponent. Heavy footsteps were heard outside, and 
the door was thrown open. A number of the townspeople 
burst into the room, armed to the teeth. 

" The Revolution's begun ! Long live Bulgaria ! " they 
cried. 

" Where are the people to meet ? " asked Ognianoff, with 
emotion. 

" Outside the to^n, on the Zli Dol, near the monastery. 
Make haste." And the insurgents hurried out again, with a 
cry of " Long live Bulgaria !" and began the song "On to 
the struggle ! " 

The bells rang out wildly. 

Ognianoff turned to Kandoff. 

" I'm busy just now. If I come out of this alive I'll give 



THE REBELLION 209 

you your satisfaction. For the present you can keep the 
young lady company to prevent her being frightened." 

He rushed out. 

Rada, quite overcome by this fresh shock, fell fainting on 
the divan. Gospoja Mouratliksa, whom her screams had 
brought to the room, was busy trying to restore her to 
consciousness. 

Kandoff listened to the bells like a man in a dream ; at 
last he bent his eyes to the ground, and saw a crumpled 
letter, which had fallen from Ognianoff's hand. He picked 
it up and read it. It was an anonymous letter, dra\;vTi up in 
venomous terms, and bidding Boicho be on his guard against 
Kandoff, who had never ceased his attentions to Rada, 
which it hinted were favourably received, and who had now 
followed her at her own request to Klissoura. 

Kandoff tore up the base calumny and spat upon it, 
after which he went out. 



CHAPTER IX : THE REBELLION 

It was now five days since the rebellion had broken out at 
Klissoura. 

Every other employment had ceased ; every other 
interest was forgotten ; unusual excitement was depicted on 
every face. The whole town was in a state of frenzy and 
expectation, and bristled with arms ; the very air in the 
streets appeared oppressive. During those five days the 
people of Klissoura seemed to have gone through five 
centuries of fear, hope, ecstasy, and despair. All that they 
saw, and did, which before had seemed so far away in the 
future, now appeared as an evil dream, a gloomy fancy of 
some disordered mind. 

On the 20th of April, the Klissoura delegate at the 
Greneral Assembly at Mechka had returned from Kopriv- 
shtitsa — which had revolted on that day — embraced his 
family and relations, and informed them that the hour for 
the rebellion had struck. Soon the chief confederates 
assembled in the school, and after singing the song, " On to 
the struggle, the enemy draws near," Karajoff delivered 
an impassioned harangue, and Klissoura, amid shouts of 
enthusiasm and the ringing of the church bells, declared 
itself in a state of rebellion. Letters were at once sent to 
the committees of the other Balkan towns, enjoining them 



210 UNDER THE YOKE 

to support the movement begun at Klissoura and Kopriv- 
shtitsa, by following their example : decurions and officers 
were appointed, weapons were hurriedly fetched from houses, 
the zapties were fired at and pursued, but without success ; 
they managed to reach the Balkan. All the men were 
summoned to the heights above the town. On each of 
these strategical points was placed a guard of from fifteen 
to twenty men to preserve the city from a surprise ; trenches 
were dug for their protection. Almost all the men in the 
town between the ages of eighteen and fifty were drafted 
into these garrisons. No one was now allowed to enter or 
leave the town ; food and other necessaries were brought to 
each man at his post by the remaining members of his 
family. The rebels were armed with such weapons as each 
could procure for himseK. 

On the next day, a solemn service was held in church at 
which the women and priests (for the men were at the forti- 
fications) prayed on their knees for the deliverance of 
Bulgaria from bondage ; the principal townspeople, who 
had taken up the movement with enthusiasm, elected a 
council of war, as well as a commander-in-chief of the 
rebels. At noon the lion-embroidered standard was planted 
with much solemnity on the summit of Zli Dol, and a 
special guard appointed to defend it. The rest of the day 
was spent in naming the commandants of the different forti- 
fied positions, excavating a powder-store, and settling other 
matters important for the arming of the insurgents and the 
defence of the town. But the news they were able to 
obtain from the outer world was not reassuring : no other 
town had risen, except in the Sredna Gora. Night found 
the insurgents somewhat despondent. 

On the 22nd of April, the insurgents killed two Turks — 
travellers. Blood had now been shed, and the die was de- 
finitely cast. But in vain did they seek to descry from the 
heights smoke rising from the burning Turkish villages in 
the valley of the Strema, which was to be the signal that 
Kableshkoff had induced the Bulgarian villages in that 
neighbourhood to rise. They began to look for some place 
of shelter and refuge in the mountains for their famihes, 
and sent to Koprivshtitsa for assistance. 

The rebels were gradually losing courage. St. George's 
Day (April 23) did not inspire them with gladness, and the 
bells which summoned the pious to prayer sounded dull 



THE REBELLION 211 

and mournful, more like a passing bell. But suddenly the 
chimes became louder and triumphant ; faces beamed with 
joy ; Voloff had arrived from Koprivshtitsa with reinforce- 
ments consisting of fifty men, mostly peasants from villages 
in the Sredna Gora. He marched straight to the church, 
where a " Te Deum " service was solemnly celebrated. The 
bells rang out still more joyously. After the service, Voloff 
and his little band, accompanied by the priests chanting 
hymns, proceeded to the heights. Tbere several Turks and 
gipsies, who had been captured, were sentenced to death 
as spies. He executed one of them himself, with his 
sword ; when all was over, Voloff returned alone to Kopriv- 
shtitsa. The rest of the time was taken up in completing 
the trenches. 

On the next day, discouragement again set in. In vain 
the outposts strained their eyes in watching for the eagerly 
desired fires in the valley. Kableshkoff's expedition had 
returned to Koprivshtitsa unsuccessful. The few travellers 
who managed to reach Klissoura during the first few days 
of the insurrection declared that in the valley everything 
was peaceful, and that there was no sign whatever of an 
impending outbreak. Since the previous day there had 
been no more travellers. In place of these, groups of 
Turks could be observed on horseback in the distance ; 
they fired, and again retreated. The discouragement in- 
creased. The promises of the most sanguine (whose 
number decreased every day), news of fictitious successes, 
severe reprimands, all were alike ineffectual to restore the 
general confidence. 

This lamentable condition of the defenders of Klissoura 
became still further intensified on the 25th of April. They 
saw that they were left to themselves — that is, to unavoid- 
able destruction. It was evident. The handful of defenders 
which the town could supply, at most about 250 men, 
was not sufficient to repel the frightful horde of bashi- 
bozouks who would fall upon them from east and west. 
How could any fresh reinforcement be hoped for from 
Koprivshtitsa, which was itself in need of aid ? Discourage- 
ment and despair gained ground every moment. DiscipHne 
was growing weak ; complaints, mumurings, regrets, the 
forerunners of demoralisation, replaced the enthusiasm of 
the first days of the revolt. The enemy had not yet been 
seen, but all felt that he was near, terrible, inevitable. The 



212 UNDER THE YOKE 

revolutionists now resembled an army which has been 
defeated without a battle, a trembling herd of deer, crouch- 
ing in some comer from which there is no escape, and 
hearing the roar of the advancing enemy. A few preserved 
their presence of mind, still fewer clung bravely to the last 
hope of success. To their moral sufferings were added 
physical hardships ; icy winds blew down at night from the 
Balkan, and numbed the garrisons in their damp trenches, 
where they were obliged to spend the night without even 
the comfort of a fire. These poor shopkeepers and cloth - 
spinners, who had lived all their lives by peaceful toil, 
suddenly turned into rebels and bristling mth arms, were 
really to be pitied. Confused grumbHngs and sighs were 
to be heard at night in the trenches, where everybody 
trembled with cold and dismay. 

" God bless the kingdom, dear ! " had been the greeting of 
the old women to one another, when they met in the streets. 

*' Ah ! we're ruined, my lad ! We're done f or ! " the 
most fervent of the confederates now groaned. 

Despair increased every moment. It was clearly stamped 
on each haggard face. However, there was no talk of 
retreat or flight, but the thought of it was in every heart. 

Such was the mental condition of the garrisons at each 
of the trenches. Such or almost such it was at Zli Dol, 
the principal point of the defence. 

CHAPTER X : THE BATTERY OF ZLI DOL 

The peak of Zli Dol, at the north-east end of the town, 
was a valuable strategical position. It commanded the 
surrounding valleys, and was the key to the pass which led 
from Klissoura to the valley of the Strema. From there 
one saw an apparently endless series of bare undulating 
rocks stretching to the east, along which the outposts were 
stationed. 

The garrison of Zli Dol was the most numerous of all. 
It had been reinforced by Voloff's Sredna Gora peasants — 
the remnants of bands which had been repulsed — and was 
preparing to greet with a shower of bullets the first onslaught 
of the enemy. 

The garrison was unusually alert to-day. A certain bold- 
ness was noticeable on the faces of the men. Yet they 
were not turned in the direction from whence the enemy 



THE BATTERY OF ZLI DOL 213 

might be expected, but towards the valley in which Klissoura 
lay nestling. Every one was gazing expectantly along the 
path which led up to the ravine. An insurgent of gigantic 
stature was carrying a long, white, cylindrical article of some 
sort on his shoulder. Behind him a woman, stout and 
plump, in peasant dress, was toiling under the weight of a 
load which seemed very heavy. 

/ It was this pair that had attracted everybody's attention, 
/and there were some grounds for this excitement : they were 
( carrying the artillery up to Zli Dol. 

V It consisted of nothing more than a cherry-tree cannon, 
which the giant was carrying on his shoulder. 

The ammunition — consisting of scraps of iron, bullets, 
nails, &c. — ^were on the woman's back. 

The eyes of the rebels flashed with satisfaction : a general 
enthusiasm prevailed on Zli Dol. 

At last the giant reached the summit, bathed in perspira- 
tion, which streamed from his forehead and neck. 

" God bless its soul ! " he exclaimed, as he set the fatal 
weapon on the ground. 

The garrison flocked round with curiosity to examine the 
cannon. There were twenty more like it, destined for the 
other forts, but they were still in the town. This had been 
brought up to test its strength, its report, and the distance 
it would carry. It was taken up to the very summit, whence 
it could command the pass and the bare peaks. It was 
filled with powder, firmly fastened into the ground by 
means of stakes, and a trench was dug behind it to protect 
the gunners. 

The insurgents burned with impatience to hear the voice 
of the first Bulgarian cannon. All were inspired with 
childish glee and unspeakable enthusiasm. Some even 
wept. 

" Listen when the Lion of the Balkan roars, boys. His 
voice will shake the Sultan's throne, and proclaim to the 
whole world that the Stara Planina is free ! " cried the 
commandant of the garrison of Zli Dol. 

" The sound will stir up our other brothers in the valley 
of the Strema — it'U remind them of their obhgations — they'll 
rush to arms and fall upon the common enemy ! " said 
another. 

" We command the whole valley from here ; only let the 
tyrants show themselves, we'll blow them to pieces." 



214. UNDER THE YOKE 

" We won't leave one of them alive, God bless their 
souls ! " said Ivan Kill-the-Bear, who was still fanning his 
heated face with his cap. 

^ For the giant who had carried up the cannon was our old 
acquaintance Kill-the-Bear ; his wife had brought up the 
rest. They had settled at Klissoura a month before, having 
found work there, and had joined in the revolt. 

The gunner, with his lintstock in his hand, was preparing 
to set to work. 

" Wait a bit, Delcho, we mustn't frighten the women and 
children, we ought to give notice first," said Niagoul, the 
cloth-worker. 

" Quite right," said others, " let's send some one to cry 
the news in the town — there may be women near their 
confinement." 

*' Why send to the town ; we should only lose time ? 
Better get some one to cry from here ; who's got the loudest 
voice ? " 

" Kill-the-Bear, Kill-the-Bear," cried those who knew the 
wonderful strength of his lungs. 

Kill-the-Bear readily undertook the fresh task. He 
asked what he was to say, committed it carefully to memory, 
and went half-way down the hill to be a little nearer to the 
town. He drew himself up to his full height, swelled out 
his chest, raised his head, and cried in stentorian tones : 

*' Now then, you people ! Take notice that we're going 
to fire the Bulgarian cannon, to try it, God bless its soul ! 
Women and children needn't be frightened. There are no 
Turks yet to be seen, God bless their souls ! " 

He repeated this announcement several times, with a 
minute's pause between each. The Balkan echoes replied 
to his powerful voice. It penetrated to every house in the 
town. After this reassuring warning, they set to work. 
Delcho made a fire, Hghted a truss of straw at it, fastened it 
to his long pole, and approached it to the touch-hole. The 
straw burned and crackled ; clouds of grey smoke rose in 
the air ; in their feverish expectation of the report, the in- 
surgents drew back to some distance ; others threw them- 
selves down in the trenches so as not to see anything ; some 
even^^stopped their ears with their fingers and waited. 
Several seconds passed, during which the strain on their 
nerves was frightful, inexpressible. The grey smoke con- 
tinued to rise from the straw, which seemed powerless to 



DISCOURAGEMENT IN THE FORT 215 

ignite the gunpowder. Hearts were beating furiously. The 
torture became insupportable. At last a white flame 
appeared at the touch-hole, and suddenly the cannon 
emitted a faint, angry, dull sound, like the crack of a board 
that is being split, or a sharp cough, and the whole battery 
was covered with a cloud of smoke. 

The cannon had cracked, and the charge was carried only 
a few paces from the mouth. Many of the insurgents did 
not even hear the report. 

One of them said, in jest or in earnest, that he had taken 
the sound for Ivan Kill-the-Bear coughing. 

This unfortunate result brought out only too clearly the 
shortcomings of the artillery. They hastened to improve 
the other cannon, by binding them firmly round with strong 
iron hoops, and lining some of them inside with tin. That 
day two guns were taken up to each fort ; they were loaded 
to the muzzle, and firmly fixed in the ground. Every gun 
was destined to serve only once, and in a particular direc- 
tion. 

It should be added that no one thought of giving notice 
in the town that the Bulgarian cannon had gone off. So 
the poor old women waited expectantly till the evening, 
with cotton- wool in their ears, for the explosion which was 
to cleave the air and shatter all the windows in the toAvn. 



CHAPTER XI : DISCOURAGEMENT IN THE FORT 

Next morning, as Ognianoff was anxiously scanning the 
horizon through his field-glass, a decurion advanced 
towards him. 

" What is it, Marcheff ? " 

" Things are as bad as bad can be," whispered the de- 
curion ; " demoralisation's spreading all over the fort." 

Ognianoff started. 

" Whoever discourages the others will be punished by 
death," he said fiercely. " Whom have you noticed, 
Marcheff ? " 

The decurion mentioned four names. 

" Call them up at once ! " 

The accused appeared. They were elderly men — cloth - 
workers or tradespeople. 

Ognianoff glanced at them sternly, and asked : 

" So it's you, is it, who're discouraging the garrison 1 " 



216 UNDER THE YOKE 

" We're not discouraging anybody," answered one of 
them sharply. 

*' You know the punishment imposed for such conduct 
at critical moments like these ? " 

They did not answer. But their silence was expressive 
of obstinacy rather than fear. 

Ognianoff was boiling over with rage, but he made an 
effort to restrain himseff, and said quietly : 

" Go back to your posts, men. We've begun our 
revolution and it's too late now to cry off. We've to face 
the enemy here : no one has any business to look back 
towards Khssoura. You'll preserve your families and your 
houses much better by stopping here than by going back to 
the town. Don't place me in a difficult position, I entreat 

you." 

The insurgents did not move. 

Ognianoff looked at them with amazement. This was 
clearly a protest. 

" Have you anything else to say ? " 

The insurgents looked at one another ; at last one of 
them said : 

" We're not meant for this kind of thing." 

" I never had a gun in my hand before in my life," said 
another. 

" No more have any of us," said the third. 

" We can't shed blood." 

" You're afraid, are you ? " asked Ognianoff, thinking to 
shame them with this question. 

" Well, it's not a sin if we are." 

" Yes, we are afraid," said the first, angrily. 

" We've got wives and children." 

" You don't suppose we've picked up our lives in the 
road, do you ? " said the boldest of them. 

" What are your lives and your families, and your houses, 
compared with the liberation of Bulgaria, and especially 
compared with the honour of Bulgaria ? " asked Ognianoff 
in a voice that quivered with rage. " I ask you again : 
don't show yourselves to be cowards, and force me to take 
strong measures against you ! " 

" We're not meant for guns and rebellions ! " 

" Well, what do you want ? " 

" We want to be set free, to go home." 



DISCOURAGEMENT IN THE FORT 217 

" We've never fired at another man ; it's not our busi- 
ness." 

Ognianoff saw that their obstinacy was not to be overcome 
by soft words. He was bursting with rage, but managed to 
keep calm. He recognised with sorrow that only deep dis- 
couragement and fear could embolden these cowards to 
confess aloud to their commander that they were afraid 
without blushing. 

From this to open panic and flight there was only one 
step. He resolved to be pitiless. The infection could not 
be allowed to spread to the others. Discipline before 
everything. 

" My men, will you return to your duty or not ? " he asked 
resolutely. 

And with a gloomy frown and a beating heart he awaited 
their reply. 

At that moment shouts were suddenly heard behind him. 
He turned round and saw, in the plain below, Kill-the-Bear 
pursuing a gipsy. The other insurgents crowded to the 
edge to watch the race, and cheered on Kill-the-Bear, who, 
in spite of his gigantic strides, could not succeed in reaching 
the bare-footed and agile gipsy. Some raised their guns to 
aim at the latter, but Ognianoff ordered them to desist. 
Clearly the fugitive had been concealed at Klissoura till 
then, and was trying to escape to some Turkish village. 
The gipsies, who had managed to escape during the first 
few days, had been the first to give notice to the Turks of 
the revolt, and details respecting the numbers, &c., of the 
garrison . By nature and interest they were faithful allies to 
the Turks, and such they showed themselves to be both here 
and elsewhere in similar circumstances Kill-the-Bear con- 
tinued to pursue the gipsy with enormous strides, but the 
gipsy maintained his lead, and the two were getting further 
and further away from the fort. The gipsy was almost out 
of gunshot range. Suddenly he stopped bewildered : before 
him appeared two insurgents from the outposts, and he found 
himself between two fires. At that moment Kill-the-Bear 
reached him, made one bound at him, and the two rolled 
over together on the ground. Shouts of satisfaction were 
heard from the fort. Many cried : 
" Bring him here— here ! " 

Kill-the-Bear, enraged at his pursuit, forced the gipsy on 



218 UNDER THE YOKE 

before him with a torrent of imprecations, which were 
clearly audible at the fort. 

The fugitive was placed under arrest. 

The insurgents crowded round him with faces that boded 
no good. Every one recognised the gipsy. He had twice 
before attempted to escape from Klissoura — the first time 
from the Konak with a secret message for the village of 
Rahmanlari, given him by a Turk kept in the town, but had 
been punished only by a closer confinement. Now there 
could be no question of pardon. 

The commandant of the fort turned to the decurion, and 
they consulted for some time in whispers. 

" Yes, yes," finally said Ognianoff. " Any mercy or in- 
dulgence would now only be injurious. The sight of death 
may inspire the cowardly with a little boldness. But the 
Council of War must pronounce its verdict. Marcheff , go at 
once to Zli Dol and report what has happened. My own. 
opinion is that the penalty should be death. Gro at once.'* 

The decurion went out. 

Ognianoff turned sternly to an aged insurgent : 

" Father Marin, put this gipsy under arrest." 

He then addressed two younger men : 

" My lads, take these gentry, the cowards, to that side of 
the fort ; take away their guns, and keep them under arrest 
until further orders." 

The four demoralised insurgents grew pale, but offered 
no opposition and proceeded quietly to the place of arrest. 

CHAPTER XII : A BAPTISM 

Ognianoff was excitedly pacing up and down the edge of 
the fort : his gloomy thoughts were reflected in his face. 

He turned mechanically to look at a group of insurgents 
who were zealously digging the new trench ; after a word or 
two of encouragement, he mounted the rampart again, 
scanned the eastern horizon and, with a still darker ex- 
pression of countenance, returned to his former place. 

" What a nation ! what a nation ! " he muttered. 

Marcheff returned. 

" The sentence is — death ! " he cried, panting. 

" The Council of War has decided, has it ? " 

" Yes, death without delay ! " said Marcheff aloud, adding 
something in a whisper. 



■4 

A BAPTISM 219 

Ognianoff made an imperceptible sign of satisfaction. 

The words " Death without delay " were heard all over 
the fort : they were repeated from mouth to mouth, and 
reached to the corner where the prisoners stood under arrest. 

They were pale before ; now their faces became as white 
as a sheet. 

They began to see that their fate was sealed. The 
Council of War appeared to them as something terrible, 
majestic, unavoidable — hke Fate itself. God alone stood 
above it. 

An insurgent approached Ognianoff : 

" The prisoners are begging for mercy." 

Ognianoff replied coldly : 

" The sentence has been pronounced ; it's too late now." 
Then, in commanding tones, he added : " Braikoff, take 
Niagoul, and Blagoi, and Iskroff, and march the four 
prisoners to the valley down there, to undergo their penalty. 
The judgment of the court-martial must be carried out to 
the letter." 

Braikoff, much moved, proceeded to carry out the orders 
of the commandant of the fort. 

Not a voice was raised in defence of the condemned : no 
one wished to appear to share their ideas. Every one felt 
that his life was at the mercy of the court-martial — ^the only 
tribunal, and one from which there was no appeal. 

The condemned insurgents, conducted by the four men 
told off for the duty, passed through the fort and down the 
valley. 

" Take the gipsy down there as well ! " cried Ognianoff. 

Then, in a whisper, he gave certain instructions to the 
dscurion, who hastened after them. 

The place selected was a moist, green meadow, through 
which flowed a little brook. It was surrounded by rocks. 
The whole garrison flocked to the heights above to witness 
the execution. 

To the left of the brook was a withered oak : two of the 
insurgents conducted the gipsy to the tree, and bound him 
to it with his red waistband. 

Fear had rendered the wretched man speechless. From 
his clenched lips blood was flowing. 

Close by the bank stood the other four condemned men, 
awaiting their turn. Their features were distorted with 
terror. 



220 UNDER THE YOKE 

Marcheff cried : 

" Bring them here, too ! " 

The victims looked at him helplessly. Three of them 
were unable to move : the guards were obliged to drag them 
to the spot. 

Marcheff placed them in a row ten paces distant from the 
bound gipsy, evidently that they might witness the terrible 
spectacle which their own fate would shortly supply to their 
comrades flocking together on the heights above. 

They were not bound ; but terror had paralysed their 
forces, and not one of them even thought of flight, which 
would, indeed, have been impossible. 

A minute's dead silence followed. 

" Advance ! " cried Marcheff to the six armed insurgents 
who had brought the prisoners. 

They advanced firmly. 

Marko then cried in loud and solemn tones : 

" The gipsy Mehmed, of Ellissoura, having been guilty of 
three attempts at escape from prison with the treacherous 
design of betraying the Bulgarian cause to the Turks, is 
condemned to death by the supreme tribunal as an example 
to all other traitors ! " Then, turning towards the other 
four : " Men, turn towards Mehmed ! " 

They did as they were ordered, automatically. 

" Give each of them a gun ! " 

The insurgents, much excited, handed them their guns. 
The condemned men took them, their faces stupefied with 
terror. 

" Now fire at him when I give the word three. One ! — 
two !— three ! " 

A report was heard and a cloud of smoke arose. 

The gipsy was still standing upright against the tree. 
Not a bullet had touched him. The firing-party had 
evidently not aimed at him. But he was as pale as death. 

" For shame, men ! Try again ! " 

And he repeated the command. The guns again rang 
out. This time the gipsy was writhing in his death agony. 

Sounds of applause were heard from above. 

" That is to be your punishment, men, for this once. 
You've had your baptism of blood. You have to thank the 
indulgence of Ognianofl and the court-martial." 

When the four men understood that they were saved, 
they first looked piteously round them like men awaking 



VALLEY OF THE STREMA IN FLAMES 221 

from some terrible dream. A faint smile of pleasure was 
only just visible on their leaden faces, still pale with terror. 
Fresh sounds of applause rose from the fort. 

CHAPTER XIII : THE VALLEY OF THE STREMA 
IN FLAMES 

" Strange — strange, it's inexplicable ! terrible ! Nothing 
all this time ! What can they be doing ? What's Bela 
Cherkva about ? They're as silent as the dead ! Silent ! 
Oh ! this silence is terrible. I don't dare to think about it ! 
Have they folded their arms and thought prudence best, after 
all ? Yet there's Sokoloff there, and Popoff , and Bezporteff 
— ^all my boys ! All eager and experienced lads. What can 
they be waiting for ? Are they waiting for me ? Yes, but 
if I can't come — ^if I'm knocked on the head — won't they do 
anything at all ? or are they deaf and blind ? Can't they 
see ? Klissoura in open revolt, Koprivshtitsa in revolt, 
Panaghiourishte in revolt, the whole Sredna Gora in flames ! 
Only the valley of the Strema still slumbering ! Can any- 
thing have happened ? is there any special impediment ? 
But it's not possible : if Bela Cherkva can't rise itself, at 
least it might send us ten or a dozen bold lads to encourage 
the others. And yet, not a sign ; and disaffection spreading 
among us every day. And after such thorough prepara- 
tions, too ! Can this be going on in other places also ? If 
so, God have mercy upon Bulgaria — only utter ruin awaits 
her ! " 

Filled with these dark thoughts, Ognianoff, disguised as 
a Turk, was cautiously making his way down the Stara 
Reka to the valley of the Strema. 

On the 20th of April, as we have already seen, he had 
arrived at Klissoura, on his way to Bela Cherkva, with the 
intention of raising the insurrection there on the day ap- 
pointed for the general rising. However, matters had come 
to a head the very day of his arrival at Klissoura. He had 
been overwhelmed by the outburst of the revolt at a moment 
of terrible mental agitation, and had flung himself blindly 
into the movement, trying to forget his pangs in the excite- 
ment of the struggle, and perhaps to meet death fighting for 
the liberty of his country. But the enemy gave no sign of 
life. All communications between Klissoura and the valley 
were cut off. Ognianoff had during five days and nights 



222 UNDER THE YOKE 

worked with untiring activity at the organisation of the 
defences, burning with impatience to hear that Bela 
Cherkva had risen. But Bela Cherkva was quite peaceful, 
like the other towns and villages in the valley. Ognianoff, 
with a bursting heart, cursed the chance which had brought 
him to Klissoura. He saw the fearful effect produced on 
the insurgents by this ominous silence, which paralysed the 
whole movement. In vain he sought to encourage his 
comrades with solemn asseverations that Bela Cherkva 
would certainly rise, and that the other towns would 
follow its example. Finally he began to despair himself, 
and to foresee with terror the collapse of Klissoura and 
of the whole revolt. He then resolved upon a bold, 
almost reckless undertaking — to make his way through the 
infuriated Turkish villages to Bela Cherkva and force it to 
rise. 

He was exposing himseK to terrible peril. But the revolt 
of Bela Cherkva would supply the spark which would kindle 
all the other places ready to rise along the whole length of 
the Stara Planina. The forces of the Turks would be 
divided. Klissoura would be saved — the revolt extended 
far and wide — ^and, who knows ? the revolution triumphant ! 
Many great events in history have been due to trifling 
circumstances. The result was, therefore, well worth the 
risk — and if any one could achieve it, Ognianoff was the 
man. 

It was past noon when he reached the valley, which was 
now in full bloom, bathed in shade and verdure. Clear 
crystal brooks flowed down the hillsides past the branching 
oaks. The air was heavy with the perfume of the roses, 
like the boudoir of some royal favourite. The valley 
beneath that azure sky and in the joyous rays of the sun 
was enchantingly lovely — like an earthly paradise . But the 
wayfarer saw nothing of all this — he would have preferred 
to have seen it in flames. 

His path lay through the Turkish village of Rahmanlari, 
the nearest to Klissoura. He approached it fearlessly. As 
he passed through the rose-gardens at the outskirts of the 
village, he was stopped by some armed Turks, who were 
evidently on guard. 

" Where are you from, brother ? " 

" From Altinovo." 

" And where are you bound for ? '' 



VALLEY OF THE STREMA IN FLAMES 228 

" For Ahievo ; are things quiet there ? " 

Ahievo was the nearest Turkish village to Bela Cherkva. 

" Yes, thank God." 

Ognianoff felt a sharp pang at his heart. 

" You'd better stop at the village ; we're going to attack 
Klissoura to-morrow." 

" Thanks— we'll see. Good-bye." 

And Ognianoff entered the village. There he found great 
excitement prevailing, the streets were crowded, groups of 
armed Turks were standing about, the cafes were thronged, 
the grocers' shops and the inn were full of people. Evidently 
there were several hundreds of Turks there from neighbour- 
ing villages, come to take part in the attack on Klissoura. 
Bahmanlari was the place of meeting. Though over- 
whelmed with a terrible presentiment of what was in store 
for Klissoura, Ogiiianoff was still more anxious for positive 
information respecting Bela Cherkva : he yet hoped that 
it might have risen at the eleventh hour. He had almost 
made up his mind to enter the inn, which was kept by a 
native of Bela Cherkva. But he was afraid of treachery 
and did not go in. He went on, eyeing the various groups 
of Turks, undecided which he should approach. He hap- 
pened to reach the door of the mosque, into which wor- 
shippers were crowding ; he looked in and saw that it was 
nearly full. Something extraordinary was evidently going 
on there. Ognianoff guessed that the khoja was going to 
preach a sermon to excite still further the fanaticism of the 
already infuriated crowd. An insurmountable curiosity 
impelled him to squeeze himself in among the throng of 
worshippers. He was not disappointed — at that moment 
the preacher mounted the wooden bench which serves as 
the pulpit in Mussulman places of worship. Ognianoff saw 
at once that it was no common village khoja, but a softa, 
who had probably come on purpose from K. 

Amid profound silence, the softa began : 

" Brethren and true believers ! There was a time in the 
glorious reign of our great Sultans when the whole world 
trembled at the name of the Osmanli. East and West 
bowed down before them ; kings and queens prostrated 
themselves to lick the sacred dust before the throne of the 
Khalif . Then Allah was great, and great was His sainted 
prophet Mohammed. But it seems we have greatly sinned 
before God, we have given way to drunkenness and adultery. 



224 UNDER THE YOKE 

we have fraternised with the unbeliever and adopted his 
laws. And so God has abandoned us to be destroyed by the 
vanquished, to be trampled on by the downtrodden. Ay, 
Allah ! Allah ! grant us the flaming sword of the angel 
Azrail that we may drench east and west with the blood of 
Thy foes — that we may redden the seas and glorify the 
heavens. This is my prayer, true believers ! Whet your 
knives and make ready your weapons, for the hour has 
struck, and we shall wash away our shame with the blood of 
the Ghiaours, to the glory of the one and only God of Islam." 

In this spirit the orator began his impassioned harangue, 
which was a long one, and which his hundreds of hearers 
received with rapt attention and increasing enthusiasm. 

" So this is what's going on," thought Ognianoff, as he 
went out into the street. " The croakers were right after 
all. While we were preaching the insurrection against the 
Turks, their apostles were preaching the extermination of the 
Bulgarian nation. The struggle will be a terrible one — it 
will be nation against nation. Bulgaria is not broad enough 
to contain the two races side by side ! Well — so be it — no 
retreat ! The die is cast ! Oh ! God ! protect Bulgaria in 
her holy struggle ! " 

And he began again to walk up and down the market- 
place. The service was over and the congregation flocked 
out : they formed in small groups, all evidently still under 
the influence of the words they had been listening to. 
Ognianoff drew near one of these groups to catch what was 
being said. He soon understood the position of affairs. 
At first the rising at Klissoura had terrified the Turkish 
population of the neighbouring villages, because they were 
convinced that there were Russian troops at Klissoura. 
Under the influence of this idea, they had begun to prepare 
for flight with their families and such portable property as 
they could collect. But they soon learnt from Turks who 
had succeeded in escaping unharmed from Klissoura — as well 
as from the want of daring shown by the insurgents — that 
they had to do with common rayas, mostly cloth -workers, 
and a few schoolmasters ; and this at once restored their con- 
fidence and courage. They resolved to settle accounts with 
the people of Klissoura without waiting for the regular 
troops. Ognianoff also heard that the villagers of Rahman- 
lari had ascertained through skilfully planned recon- 
naissp .ces the disposition and approximate strength of each 



VALLEY OF THE STREMA IN FLAMES 225 

garrison. Tossoun Bey was expected to arrive the next 
morning from K. with a band of bashi-bozouks, and then 
they would at once attack the revolted city. 

These discoveries terrified Ognianoff . He now recognised 
still more clearly how indispensable it was to hasten the 
rising in other Bulgarian towns. 

Tossoun Bey must be anticipated. 

He set out eastward. He passed unmolested through the 
Turkish village of Tekkie. It was guarded only on the 
western side, a sign that no danger was expected from the 
east. Here also great activity was noticeable ; here also 
Tossoun Bey's arrival was being awaited ; the villagers 
were to join his horde. 

" There's not a minute to lose ! Bela Cherkva — Bela 
Cherkva. Tossoun Bey must first of all try his strength 
against its walls of iron. They'll rise — ^yes, yes — they'll rise 
the moment I get there. If I can only get hold of Bez- 
portefE we two will proclaim the rebellion, and in half 
an hour I'll have five hundred men under the colours. 
Bela Cherkva must revolt, even though it means her ruin. 
Forward, forward ! Oh, God, give me wings ! " 

And Ognianoff tore onwards to Bela Cherkva. In two 
or three hours he would see from afar the white chimneys of 
the town, and the pyramid-like frontal of the church. His 
heart beat with insensate joy. 

Not far from the village he had just left the path lay 
through a thickly wooded gorge which lay in a cleft of the 
rocks. When he reached the valley he seemed to hear 
distant sounds of drums and cymbals. Probably some 
wedding was going on in a Turkish village, most unseason- 
ably as it seemed. But soon all grew silent and he forgot 
what he had heard. As he emerged at the opposite end of 
the gorge the drums and cymbals echoed again, this time 
quite close by. He clinched the heights, astounded : from 
the summit he saw a spectacle which petrified him with 
dismay. 

The whole path before him was dark with Turks, 
marching on to the sound of that barbaric music. Several 
red banners waved in the air. The horde was moving on 
without any order, tumultuous and noisy. In the sun guns, 
scythes, axes, pitchforks, gleamed on the shoulders of the 
bashi-bozouks. Most of them were in their waistcoats and 
shirt-sleeves, on account of the noonday heat. The wave 



226 UNDER THE YOKE 

had emptied the Turkish villages through which it had 
passed. There was no semblance of discipline throughout 
that frenzied horde ; but a fierce, savage object united 
them, inspired them, drove them ouAvard : they all sought 
alike blood and booty. For the first, they carried their 
guns and scythes ; for the second, a whole train of waggons 
followed behind. This rabble, drunken with fanaticism, 
moved on to the sound of the drums and cymbals, advancing 
slowly but irresistibly like a swarm of locusts. 

Before them rode a tall, thin, dark man, with a white 
turban : he was their leader. 

He beckoned to the gipsy musicians to stop. 

" Come here, Mussulman ! " he cried to Ognianoff. 

OgnianofE approached, bowing low. 

" Where are you coming from ? " 

" From Tekkie." 

" What's going on there ? " 

" Nothing— all's well, thank God ! " 

" What do they say — are there many of them at 
KHssoura ? " 

*' A good many, they say — God save the Sultan ! " 

" Who are they ? " 

" Moskovs, they say." 

" Silence, you pimp. They're nothing but rascally 
rayas." 

" Beg pardon. Bey Effendi." 

" Where are you going ? " 

" To K." 

*' Turn back and come along with us." 

Ognianoff involuntarily turned pale. 

" Bey Effendi, won't you let me " 

" To the rear," cried Tossoun Bey, spurring his horse. 

The host moved on again — the drums and cymbals 
struck up — Ognianoff was forced along with them. 

It would have been absurd to resist or to try to pass 
through the mob which blocked the whole path. The 
wretched man, with despair in his soul, let himself go with 
the throng. He was utterly overcome — ^his last hope had 
vanished. He went on mechanically, as in a dream, driven 
forward by the noisy crowd, whose numbers and fierce 
merriment increased every moment. And the human wave 
pushed on, on, to the bare peaks behind which lay 
Kiissoura. 



A FRESH ATTEMPT 227 

CHAPTER XIV : A FRESH ATTEMPT 

In the evening Tossoun Bey's horde reached Rahmanlari, 

still more excited and fanatical. It was met there by a 

fresh detachment of Turks who had flocked in from the 

surrounding villages. Tossoun Bey would march against 

Klissoura the next day with a force of about two thousand 

men. 

The village was a mass of light. It would scarcely 
contain these new arrivals. As the night was a fine one, 
most of them lay down to sleep in the streets. 

Ognianoff unwillingly followed this example. 

He lay down by himself on a mound near the inn, which 
was kept by a man from Bela Cherkva. 

Though it was late, there were still lights ijj the windows 
of the inn, which was crowded. 

Ognianoff was resolved not to sleep. He determined to 
make an attempt to escape from that hornet's nest of Turks 
into which he had fallen — to-morrow this would be im- 
possible. 

Deep in thought, he fixed his eyes on the brightly illu- 
minated windows of the inn. He was trying to contrive 
some means of passing through the numerous guards that 
protected every exit from the village. 

He hoped that this would easily be accomplished owing 
to his costume and thorough knowledge of the Turkish 
language. But, alas ! what would his escape avail, even if 
he was successful ? 

Bela Cherkva remained peaceful, and nothing could save 
Klissoura from destruction. 

To try to make his way to Bela Cherkva that night was 
almost out of the question ; the guard on the east side of the 
village had strict orders to let no one pass, so as to keep 
back any casual deserters. Next day it would be still more 
impossible. Indeed had it been posible, he would not have 
gone to Bela Cherkva now. He felt he had no right to be 
absent from Khssoura at so terrible a moment. His 
absence would be considered as a cowardly desertion. No, 
it was not to be thought of. But how could he send word 
to Bela Cherkva ? Could he not make one last attempt ? 
And he strained every nerve to try and hit upon some plan. 

At last an idea struck him. He decided to propose to 
the innkeeper to send one of his sons to Bela Cherkva next 



228 UNDER THE YOKE 

morning : the messenger might for safety's sake be ac- 
companied by some travelling Turk, as to-morrow was 
market-day at K. 

The plan seemed a feasible one, though the difficulties 
in the way of its realisation were very great, but its impor- 
tance was worth the effort and the risk. For the danger 
was undeniable : he must begin by reveaKng himself to the 
innkeeper, and place his fate in the man's hands. 

Fortunately he knew him and his family, one of the sons 
having been his pupil : this somewhat encouraged him. 

He rose from the mound, passed boldly through the gates 
of the courtyard, traversed the yard, and drew near to a 
small window in a little room at the end of the yard next to 
the stable : there he began to walk up and down, waiting 
till chance should bring out one of the family. He did not 
venture to knock at the window or the door, for fear of the 
noise being overheard by the Turks. 

For a long time he paced up and down before any one 
came out. The innkeeper and his sons were doubtless 
busy in the inn, and there was no one but his wife and 
the younger children in the room. So at last he resolved 
to knock at the door. 

But chance came to his aid. The door opened and a 
female figure appeared. Ognianoff recognised the inn- 
keeper's wife. She was going towards the stable with a 
measure of barley under her arm. Either she did not see 
him in the dark, or more probably she took him for a Turk 
who had come to look after his horse. 

Ognianoff went up to her, and said clearly in Bulgarian : 

" Good evening, Sister Avramitsa." 

She turned round in surprise, or rather in terror. 

" Don't you know me ? " he added in a fawning voice, 
and, to quiet her fears, he hastened to disclose himself to 
her. 

" I'm Ognianoff, your son Nanko's teacher." 

" What, the Count ? " she asked, astounded, putting the 
measure of barley under her other arm. " What are you 
doing here ? " 

Then, as she suddenly understood his situation : 

" Come in, come in. Wait till I fill the horse's bag with 
barley, and we'll go in." 

Half a minute later Avramitsa and Ognianoff had entered 
a dark little room. The innkeeper's wife struck a match 



A FRESH ATTEMPT 229 

and lighted a tin lamp, which at once cast a dim light over 
the room and her visitor. 

" There's a way out into the garden by this door, and 
from there you can get over the fence into the street. It 
may be useful for you to know it," whispered Avramitsa, 
pointing to a trap-door so small that a man could scarcely 
crawl through it. " But what have you come here for ? '* 
she asked. 

" I was going to Bela Cherkva from Klissoura, but 
Tossoun Bey met me beyond Tekkie, and turned me back." 

In response to her hospitality Ognianoff felt himself 
obliged to be perfectly sincere with her. He could do 
nothing without her assistance. 

Avramitsa looked compassionately at him. 

" Dear, dear ! the poor people : it's terrible to think of 
what's in store for them. All this band's going to 
Klissoura." 

" Klissoura must fall. Sister Avramitsa : it'll be reduced 
to dust and ashes. I did my utmost to save it, but it's no 
good. I can't get through to Bela Cherkva." 

" What good would that be ? What could you do 
there ? " 

" I'd have got Bela Cherkva to rise, and the villages 
round it as well ; and Tossoun Bey would have had to come 
back." 

" The Lord destroy the black gipsy ! But what are you 
going to do now ? " asked Avramitsa again, not knowing 
what Ognianofif wished her to do. 

" Where's your Nanko — ^is he here ? " 

" Yes." 

" And Kousman ? '* 

" He's here too." 

" Where are they ? " 

" In the shop helping their father — to see that these 
scoundrels don't steal anything." 

Ognianoff thought for a moment. 

" Couldn't we send one of them — either Nanko or 
Kousman — to Bela Cherkva to-morrow morning ? " 

The mother looked at him with dismay. 

" He might go with some Turk from here whom he 
knows. It's market-day at K. to-morrow, and there must 
be plenty going from Rahmanlari." 

" Yes, but it's terrible just now, teacher." 



230 UNDER THE YOKE 

" It won't be terrible if he has a Turk with him. Besides, 
everything's quiet over there. No one'll touch him." 

" And what do you want to send him there for ? " 

" Just to take a letter for me to a friend of mine ; he can 
be back here again by noon." 

Avramitsa thought of Boicho's words a moment before, 
and guessed what was the message he wished to send by 
her son to Bela Cherkva. Her face became still gloomier. 

" Well, teacher, I must ask their father's leave first." 

" Sister Avramitsa, please don't say anything about it to 
Avram. Can't you send word quietly to Nanko to come 
and see me ? " 

Ognianoff knew that his former pupil idolised him, and 
would do anything he asked him. 

The woman's face grew stem. 

" No, no ; I'll do nothing without Avram's leave." 

" But he'll never let the boy go." 

Evidently the good will she had borne him a moment 
before had disappeared. Before her mind appeared the 
thousand dangers which might befall her child if he went 
to Bela Cherkva. She began to tremble before this strange 
and terrible man. She regretted inwardly that she had not 
at once sent him about his business, and began to look 
around her uneasily. But her kind heart would not allow 
her to yield to the cruel thought which suggested itself to 
her. 

Ognianoff remarked her violent agitation. He saw that 
it was impossible to settle so important a question with a 
weak, irresolute woman. Time was going by, and he must 
begin to think of his escape. He resolved to know the 
worst. 

" Well, Sister Avramitsa, go and call the master ; I want 
to talk to him for a minute." 

Avramitsa was at once relieved. 

" I'll go and whisper to him. You stop here, and 
remember the trap-door, if you hear anything wrong." 

And she went out. 



CHAPTER XV : AVRAM 

Ognianoff remained alone. He resolved to be quite open 
with Avram. He must have complete confidence in the 
man, and trust to his honour. The object he had in view 



AVRAM 231 

was worth a hundred lives like his own, if it could only be 
attained. At all events, Avram was a Bulgarian ; he might 
refuse his request, but he would not betray him. He heard 
steps in the passage outside : he guessed that this must be 
Avram. And he waited quietly by the door. 

The door opened and the innkeeper came in. His fat, 
ruddy countenance was smiling all over. He closed the 
door behind him. 

" Oh ! welcome. Count, welcome ! How are you ? all 
right, eh ? That's a good idea of yours to come and see us, 
and have a talk ; well, I am glad. We're all glad to see you, 
the wife's glad too, and won't the children be glad when 
they know ? Why, Nanko hasn't seen you for six months : 
he's always saying how kind you were to him. Welcome, 
welcome — well, I never." 

And his joy and rapture seemed boundless. 

Ognianoff was overjoyed. He went boldly to work, 
explained in a few words his position to Avram, and repeated 
the proposal he had made to his wife. 

Avram's face continued to beam with satisfaction. 

" Of course, of course — that's all right — ^why not ? It's 
not worth talking about ? Who wouldn't do as much for 
the nation ? " 

" Thanks, thanks, master Avram," said Ognianoff with 
emotion ; "at this great moment every Bulgarian is bound 
to make some sacrifice for the country." 

" And who wouldn't help ? There isn't a single Bulgarian 
who wouldn't. Whoever refuses to assist in a sacred cause 
hke that deserves God's curse. No, no, that's all right. 
Which boy shall we send ? " 

" Better send Nanko, he's the oldest and the sharpest." 

" Very well, that's all right, he's your pupil. He'd give 
his head for you. Won't he be glad when I tell him ? 
Have you written the note ? " 

And Avram's voice trembled with joyful excitement. 

" I'll write it in a minute." And Ognianoff fumbled in 
his pockets. " Haven't you got a bit of paper ? " 

The innkeeper took out a piece of paper, handed it to 
Ognianoff, and said : 

""There you are — you write the letter, while I give a look 
round at the shop. These fellows are regular thieves." 

" Make haste back, master Avram, and bring my Nanko 
with you. I've already told you I must be off myself." 



232 UNDER THE YOKE 

" I'll be back in a minute." And the innkeeper, with 
one last smile at his visitor, opened the door and went 
out. 

Ognianoff scribbled off his note in a moment. It con- 
sisted of the following lines : — 

" The insurrection's ablaze ! Don't delay a moment ; 
proclaim the revolt at once ; send a detachment to fall upon 
Tossoun Bey's rear, and another to raise the villages. 
Courage and confidence ! I will soon come to you to die 
for Bulgaria. Long hve the revolt. — Ognianoff." 

He congratulated himself on his success. He would 
never have expected to find such readiness and patriotism 
in Avram. He now listened impatiently for the father's and 
son's footsteps. The noise and bustle of the street scarcely 
reached that remote room. The lamp was burning down 
and emitted thick clouds of smoke. 

Suddenly, he heard a piercing, heartrending shriek — ^a 
woman's wail — in the next room. 

Ognianofi shuddered. 

He recognised the voice as that of Avramitsa. 

What was the meaning of this lamentation ? 

He was seized with involuntary terror. 

He listened intently in the semi-darkness ; he thought he 
heard steps retreating in the corridor outside. 

He rushed to the trap-door and tried to open it. But it 
resisted his efforts ; it seemed to be firmly fastened. It was 
a terrible position ; his hair stood on end. 

" They've betrayed me ! " he thought to himself. 

At that moment he heard a noise at the trap -door as if the 
lock was being tried with a key. Suddenly it opened, and 
the night air blew fresh through the aperture. Ognianoff 
peered into the dark hole which opened on to the garden. 
He then distinguished a human form. 

It was Avramitsa. 

" Fly ! " she whispered low. In the dim lamplight 
Ognianoff could see that she was bathed in tears. 

He crawled through and hastened across the garden. 

" This way," whispered Avramitsa, pointing to a plum- 
tree in the hedge. Aiid she vanished in the darkness. 

Ognianoff leaped over the garden hedge and found him- 
self in the back street, which was quite deserted. 



NIGHT 238 

He passed hurriedly along the street, which led him past 
the front door of the house. 

There he ran against a throng of armed Turks. They 
passed through the gates and made straight for the end of 
the yard. 

Ognianoff went rapidly on till he too was lost to sight. 

CHAPTER XVI : NIGHT 

It was long after midnight when Ognianoff, after many 

hair-breadth escapes, returned to the fort. 

The garrison was still awake ; the men lay rolled up in 
rugs and blankets brought from their houses. They were 
talking quietly as they watched the moonless, starlit sky. 
OgnianoS penetrated noiselessly among them and lay down 
exhausted, physically and mentally. He was trying to 
gather his wandering thoughts, or at least to get a little 
sleep, which he required so much, so as to be able to face 
the next day boldly. But his thoughts were dispersed like 
a swarm of startled bees, and sleep fled from his eyelids. It 
is not easy to sleep on the eve of a battle, or rather a 
disaster. 

By his side a low conversation was going on among a 
small group of insurgents l5ang there : the conversation 
attracted his attention. 

" Do what you will, we're all done for," said one. 

" Ah, they've deceived us, they've deceived us," sighed 
another. 

" What fools we were to listen to the scoundrels ! We've 
burnt our own houses down over our heads," declared a 
third. 

" What did we want with a revolt, I should like to 
know ? " 

" It's too late now to cry over that." 

" Well, what then ? " 

" We must find some way out of it." 

" There's only one way out of it, and that's to leg it," said 
a voice which was famihar to Ognianoff . 

" Yes, yes. Hook-it's mother doesn't weep." 

" No, but Hold-hard's will," added another. 

" We'd better cut it to-morrow, towards Vrlishnitsa." 

" Better do it now." 

" No, we can't, we'd be stopped by the patrol." 



284 UNDER THE YOKE 

" To-morroWj to-morrow." 

" To-morrow everybody '11 take to their heels, they'll show 
us the way." 

" Only take care Ognianoff doesn't see us, the dog ! " 

" Oh ! he cleared out this morning." 

" Did he ? " 

" Yes, we're the only fools left behind." 

Ognianoff leaped to his feet and cried : 

" It's a lie, you wretches, here I am ! " 

At that terrible voice coming from out of the darkness 
they all disappeared. 

Ognianoff had listened to the conversation with mingled 
disgust and terror. There could be no doubt that it 
expressed the general turn of mind of the insurgents at 
that fort as well as the others. The voice of one of the 
speakers seemed to be familiar to him of old, but he could 
not call to mind where he had heard it. 

*' My God, my God ! " he thought to himself, drawing his 
cloak carefully round him to keep out the chill night air. 
" What a state of things : what disenchantment : what a 
disaster ! Who can care for life, or wish to Hve any longer, 
after this ? To-morrow we'll have to fight, and I can see 
what will be the end of that. The panic's in their hearts, 
the fear of death has paralysed their arms and their minds, 
and yet they were ready to meet death when they first came. 
The nation was fearless — ^it hoped — it beHeved, like a child, 
and now it trembles like a child. The cowardice of one has 
infected many. Bela Cherkva and the rest have de- 
moralised ElLssoura. It's cowardice — ^it's base treachery 
against the common cause. That intriguing city is only 
good for producing traitors and treachery ; it can beget a 
Kandoff, an Avram, a Rada ! Ah ! how that girl has 
poisoned the last few hours of my life — ^how I seek death ! 
how gladly I'd welcome it ! How proudly and gladly I 
would have died, convinced that at least one honest tear 
could be shed over my unknown grave ! But to die when 
everything in this world is dead to you, when you see your 
two great idols in the mire, your beloved ideals trampled 
on — ^Love and Revolution ! Ah ! how hard and hopeless 
it is to die now ! And yet how desirous, how indispensable 
it is for hapless wretches like me ! " 

The mountain wind whistled shrilly down the slumbering 
valley. A dull and ominous rustling arose from the thickets 



MORNING 236 

around, which the darkness made still more weird. All the 
peaks, valleys, and hills around, all Nature, seemed to be 
sobbing in terror. The stars twinkled hastily and uneasily 
in the sky. But for the hooting of the owls, no sign of life 
was audible. From time to time the insurgents would 
wake up and peer into the night, only to fall asleep again, 
and see in dreams the ghostly phantoms of terror, while the 
wind imprinted its icy-cold kisses on their brows. 

Only one human form seemed still awake on the trenches. 
This man, this insurgent, paced up and down without 
stopping — quietly, regularly, mechanically. He seemed 
completely absorbed in his thoughts, and to be moving quite 
unconsciously. One would have taken him for a sentinel, 
but the guards were in front, at some distance from the fort. 
Hours passed on, and the solitary walker still kept on his 
pace unaltered. From time to time his figure became in- 
visible against the dark background of the opposite rocks, 
then it shone out again in the bright starlight. The second 
cockcrow sounded at Klissoura . This seemed to awake him . 
He started, and remained for some minutes motionless, 
turning towards Klissoura : then he made an almost im- 
perceptible sign without moving from his place. Suddenly 
a tiny flame flashed before him and was at once extinguished : 
it was accompanied by a loud snap, which was not repeated. 
It was clearly the flash of some flintlock weapon, which 
had failed to ignite the charge. The man had fired at some- 
thing. But at what ? The slight flash and noise attracted 
no attention from the sleeping insurgents, numbed with 
cold. Meanwhile, the ringing note of the cocks of KUssoura 
penetrated the night air and filled the lonely mountains 
with its cheerful sound, the forerunner of dawn, of the 
golden sun, of life, and the renewed festival of spring. 

CHAPTER XVII : MORNING 

In spite of his agitation of mind, Ognianoff at length fell 
asleep and slept soundly for two hours. Such slumber, 
they say, is enjoyed by the condemned the night before 
their execution. At dawn he woke, and scanned the horizon 
carefully. Nature was awaking : the morning star stiU 
stone in the bluish-grey heavens, which were getting 
brighter and brighter towards the east : there a red, fiery 
glow rested on the summits of the mountains, like the glare 



236 UNDER THE YOKE 

of some distant fire. Dark mists still overhung the steep 
precipices of the Ribaritsa, but its crown of snow was 
growing rosy under the reflection of the eastern dawn. 
Only the Bogdan was still wrapped in mist and wore a cold 
and forbidding look. But slowly the mist dispersed, the 
light became brighter and more powerful, and the green 
hills, forests, and valleys around smiled joyously beneath 
the blue heaven of that spring mom. Here and there the 
morning nightingale's note could be heard in the glades. 

Ognianoff rose, glanced at the sleeping garrison, wrapped 
in furs and cloaks, and proceeded in the direction of Zli 
Dol. He was going to confer with the Council of War. 

Soon he was lost to sight in the valley through which his 
path lay. 

It was now broad dayhght, and the sun had fairly risen. 

The insurgents in the fort were now all afoot and be- 
ginning to work at new trenches, under the supervision of 
the decurions. They seemed bolder now. Marchefi had 
whispered to them that Ognianoff had reconnoitred as far 
as Tekkie, and that he knew positively that Bela Cherkva 
would rise that day. This news shghtly restored their 
courage. The lads were more at their ease now, their 
faces seemed even cheerful, and some went so far as to 
sing songs. The humour which is indigenous to the soil 
was not slow to appear. Jests were made at the expense of 
the four Klissouriots who had been sentenced to fire at the 
gipsy on the previous day. 

" Fancy not being able to hit Mehmed at five paces ! and 
having to fire a second time : poor fellow, his sins are 
upon you now. The one minute you lengthened his life by 
was like a hundred years of torture. All his sins are 
forgiven him now," said one. 

" Confound you," said another, " you've made a martyr 
of him. Now he's in Paradise with Mohammed." 

" It's not true," said a third. " Dicho and Stamen the 
Crow threw them in the ditch there — I saw him myself — and 
now he's with the frogs." 

They all laughed. 

" So near, and not a single bullet in him ! " cried another ; 
" why I could have spit on him at that distance." 

"I'd bet anything you never aimed at him ! " 

" Of course not — my grandmother could have hit him at 
that distance." 



THE FIGHT 287 

" We did aim at him," said one of the four. 

" Well, you aimed pretty badly then." 

" Just as I was firing, I winked, and " 

More laughter followed. 

" What are those fellows beckoning for ? " said some one, 
turning to the east. 

They all looked in that direction. 

The outposts were giving the conventional signal that 
they had seen the enemy. At the same time two men 
hastened from thence to the Zli Dol battery, to report to 
the Council of War what they had seen. 

Just as these reached the fort in question, two bands of 
mounted Turks, each about twenty strong, came in sight 
from the direction of Rahmanlari. One band was following 
the path, the other took to the thicket. The insurgents 
gazed anxiously to see if any fresh forces appeared behind 
these, but nothing could be seen. 

At once two detachments of infantry more numerous 
than the Turks hurried down from the forts to meet the 
enemy. The larger detachment came from Zli Dol. 

" Who's their leader ? " asked the insurgents of each 
other, looking curiously at the commander, who was very 
like a Turk. 

" Why, Ognianoff, can't you see ? " said several all at 
once. 

The Turks stopped when they saw the Bulgarians 
advancing, and retreated. 

" They've taken to their heels," said some one joyfully. 

" We'll fight 'em to-day." 

'* It seems to me they'll have trouble with Bela Cherkva 
yet," declared another. 

And the fort was busy with activity and cheerful conver- 
sation. 



CHAPTER XVIII : THE FIGHT 

Noon came and went. The sun was now at its highest. 

The men in Ognianoff's battery had finished their dinner 
and were hurriedly putting away in their knapsacks the 
scraps that remained. Anxiety was depicted on their 
haggard, dusty faces, unwashed for the last week, dis- 
couragement was again visible there : a slight success in the 
morning had given them a little confidence, but only for a 



238 UNDER THE YOKE 

moment. They knew that if the decisive struggle did not 
take place that day, it would inevitably be on the next. 
They felt that the storm was gathering over them with 
terrible rapidity. And from time to time they cast uneasy 
glances towards the east upon the bare heights, whence the 
distant outposts appeared. 

The sun was very hot. On the right-hand side of the 
battery, which had been marked out and prepared on the 
previous night, Ognianoff was busily engaged with several 
insurgents who were rapidly throwing up another trench. 
A reinforcement of ten men had been sent to the fort on the 
previous day and the trenches required to be enlarged. 

" Teacher," said a peasant, fifty years of age, who came 
up just then. 

Ognianoff turned round. 

" What is it, Father Marin ? " 

The peasant from Verigovo gave him a paper, roughly 
folded in four. 

*' There's a letter come for you ! " 

" Who brought it ? " asked Boicho before opening it. 

" Ivan Kill-the-Bear. He was looking for you here last 
night, but he couldn't find you, so he gave it to me to give 
you when you came back." 

*' Did he say who it was from ? " 

" From the schoolmistress." • 

Ognianoff felt a pang at his heart, as if a serpent had 
stung him there. He crushed the letter convulsively with 
the intention of throwing it away ; but it occurred to him 
that this would be noticed, and he placed it in the pocket 
of his tunic. He returned to his work hurriedly and 
feverishly to deaden the feeling of torture which the sight 
of the letter had caused him. 

" What does this Rada want of me, at this moment, too ? 
Can't I be left alone, to see the struggle, to meet death at 
last, so that all may be over ! " 

Just then something unusual had evidently occurred. 
All the insurgents flocked to the edge of the fort and gazed 
towards the east. 

Ognianoff raised his head and glanced in that direction. 
The outposts were making signals of distress. Several guns 
were fired, a sign that the enemy was advancing in force. 

Soon they began to retreat rapidly from their posts, 
crying : 



THE FIGHT 239 

" They're coming — crowds of them ! " 

The fort was thrown into a state of confusion. The 
garrison flocked hither and thither, panic-stricken. 

" To your posts, I command you," cried Ognianoff, 
seizing his Martini from the heap where all the guns lay 
piled. 

At this order the insurgents started and each returned to 
his place in the trenches. 

At critical moments the courage and presence of mind 
of one man act like magic on the mass : any one who 
wishes may then command them. 

Several men from the outposts arrived just then, wearied 
out by their rapid flight. Ognianoff met them. 

" What did you see ? " he asked. 

*' Turks — a terrible horde advancing — there must be a 
thousand of them. The road's black with bashi-bozouks." 

Ognianoff made a sign to them to be silent. 

*' Hold hard ! " he cried, seeing that several of the 
garrison had again left the trenches. 

" Crowds, crowds of them ! " muttered several, as they 
raised their heads over the rampart. 

" To your places — every one to his arm ! " commanded 
Boicho authoritatively. They all returned to their posts. 

*' Here they come ! " 

In truth far away on the main pass where it emerges on 
the summit of the mountain the head of a thick column 
could be seen : its length increased every moment — it 
resembled a gigantic caterpillar. This was Tossoun Bey's 
horde. The nearer it approached the more numerous and 
redoubtable it appeared. The Turks were marching four 
abreast : twenty small flags and three great banners, white, 
red, green and other colours, waved over the column. It 
soon filled the whole road from the Tower to Bela Voda — 
a distance of a mile and a half. 

Confusion again prevailed in the ranks of the garrison. 
No one could be induced to remain at his post. All looked 
despairingly at the advancing enemy. 

Only Ognianoff's fierce glance restrained them a little. 

The black column continued its march along the road, 
till it reached the fountain, about gunshot distance from 
the fort. 

Then from the garrison from Zli Dol several guns were 
fired : and a volley was discharged also from Ognianoff's 



240 UNDER THE YOKE 

fort, at his command. A cloud of smoke covered the 
trenches, and the mountains echoed with the report. 

Several men in the front ranks of the column were seen 
to fall. 

At that moment OgnianofiP caught sight of the ^heads of 
three men stealthily making for the path towards the Stara 
Reka brook. These were insurgents deserting the fort 
under cover of the smoke and general confusion. Ognianofi 
instinctively recognised in the fugitives his neighbours of 
the previous evening who had planned their flight aloud. 

He leapt to the verge of the rock down the side of which 
they were descending. The fugitives were climbing down 
one after another by a steep rocky path hollowed out by the 
winter torrents. 

" Back — back to your places, or I'll fire," he cried, pointing 
his gun at them. 

The fugitives turned round and remained fixed to the 
ground as if petrified. They had left their guns behind 
them. In one of them Ognianoff recognised Deacon 
Vikenti, shaved and in peasant dress. The lad blushed to 
the eyes for very shame ; it was his voice that Ognianoff 
had tried in vain to recollect the night before. 

The fugitives turned back mechanically. 

" Father Marin, take these cowards and put them to work 
in the trenches. If one of them attempts to escape, blow his 
brains out," and Ognianoff returned hurriedly to his post. 

" Why, you ^\Tetched cowards, you might have fired off 
your guns at least before trying to cut it," grumbled Father 
Marin, as he led them to the trenches with his gun pointed 
at them. 

The commander's vigorous action calmed the remainder 
of the insurgents. They repressed all tokens of fear, but 
for a few minutes only. Their lips were tightly clenched, 
and the panic would soon become general. 

The Turks had not yet fired off a single gun. The fall 
of their comrades occasioned by the first volley from the 
fort had for a moment thrown confusion into their ranks. 
They carried the wounded into the rose-gardens close by 
and retreated hurriedly. This first success emboldened the 
insurgents, who kept up an energetic fire upon the enemy. 
The whole mountain seemed to tremble under the uninter- 
rupted firing. White puffs of smoke hung over the various 
peaks and showed where the forts were. The fire was kept 



THE FIGHT 241 

up even when the Turks had retreated out of range. Far 
away behind the horde could be seen a knot of horsemen. 
These composed Tossoun Bey's staff. The fugitives ap- 
proached them and formed a thick group round them, 
which remained there for some time. Evidently the plan 
for the attack was being concerted. Soon a movement was 
noticeable in that armed throng : it formed into several 
groups, which separated the one from the other. Then, as 
if at a given signal, all these groups rushed forward with 
wild and excited cries. Some advanced along the bare 
summits towards the mountain, others towards the heights 
of Zli Dol, others in the direction of the Sredna Gora 
towards the valley of the Stara Reka, through which lies 
the pass to EJissoura, and others again towards Ognianofif's 
fort. The insurgents greeted their advance with a volley 
while they were yet far distant, but the Turks reserved their 
fire till they came within range. 

In a few minutes the fort was completely hidden in clouds 
of smoke from the constant firing, but the numbers of the 
garrison decreased steadily every moment. Ognianoff, black 
with powder and mud, with the bullets whistling round him, 
rose every moment to discharge his Martini, and then sank 
down again into the trench. 

From time to time he cried without turning round : 
*' Let 'em have it ! fire ! courage, brothers ! " 

Suddenly he heard Father Marin's voice near him ; the 
old man was saying to some one : 

" Stoop doAvn, lad, can't you ? you'll be hit ! " 

Ognianoff involuntarily turned to the right and saw 
through the smoke an insurgent who was firing away at the 
enemy, bolt upright, and completely exposed to their fire. 
Such boldness was perfect madness. 

Ognianoff, to his surprise, recognised Kandoff. 

So struck was he that he went mechanically towards him, 
and held out his hand through the smoke, saying : 

" Give me your hand, brother." 

The student turned, threw a calm, icy look at Ognianoff, 
but pressed his hand warmly. The greeting exchanged by 
the two rivals was a sign of reconciliation before their 
bleeding country — ^perchance an eternal farewell. 

A drop of blood fell on Ognianoff's hand as he held 
Kandoff 's — it fiowed from the student's arm. 

Ognianoff noticed the blood, but it did not surprise him, 

Q 



242 UNDER THE YOKE 

nor did he think at all about it. What most astonished him 
was Kandoff's presence there. 

In truth the student, who had been sent with the 
reinforcement on the previous evening, had not yet been 
noticed by Ognianoff in his feverish excitement and agita- 
tion. Kandoff was the nocturnal somnambulist who had 
made the unsuccessful attempt at suicide with his eyes fixed 
on Rada's dwelling. 

Ognianoff turned away and looked round him. 

He then saw to his dismay that the trenches were almost 
deserted. The insurgents had vanished from the fort. Only 
five or six men still remained and kept up the fire, which 
was gradually dying out on the other forts as well, also 
deserted by their defenders. The enemy's bullets now 
poured in still more frequently, and it was an enterprise of 
great peril to show one's head above the trenches. 

Ognianoff, despairing, beside himself with rage, main- 
tained with his few brave comrades the unequal combat, 
resolved to die at his post. It was the only fort which still 
continued to fire. 

Suddenly he heard a sharp cry of pain beside him. 

Ognianoff looked round trembling. Close to him lay 
Vikenti, lifeless. A stream of blood was pouring from his 
breast and reddening the earth beside him. That blood 
had washed away his disgrace. 

Father Marin carried the body under cover, where it might 
be taken by others and carried into the to^^nri. But there 
was no one there. The heights were deserted. 

A deadly silence prevailed in the empty trenches. Only 
a few shots fired now and again from the still garrisoned 
forts to the north and west of the town made an echo, 
perfectly useless to all intent, to Ognianoff 's fort, which now 
attracted all the enemy's bullets. The Turks continued to 
advance, firing unceasingly. They moved cautiously 
through the vineyards and rose-gardens which were still 
between them and the fort, stooping behind every chance 
shelter, for fear of a sudden attack from the heights above 
them. One by one they reached the forts deserted in the 
panic. In place of insurgents or their bodies they found 
arms, knapsacks, cartridges, and other munitions of war. 
They found even the cherry-tree cannons which had been 
carried up the day before — two or three to each fort. These 
were still loaded, no one having thought of firing them in the 



RADA 243 

panic of the moment : this was also the case in Ognianoff's 
battery. 

The Turks had now reached the heights over the town 
itself. They were fired at from the streets — ^their standard- 
bearer and another fell. But the fate of the battle and of 
the town itself was now decided in favour of Tossoun Bey's 
horde. They poured down the cliffs towards unhappy 
Klissoura like a black swarm of crows upon a fresh carcase, 

CHAPTER XIX : RADA 

As soon as the first shots on the heights above Kfissoura 
announced that the fateful battle had begun, the towns- 
people, overcome with wild panic, began to flee towards 
Koprivshtitsa, through the Vrlishnitsa, a narrow pass over 
the Sredna Gora, with a brook of the same name, that 
eventually joins the Stara Reka, flowing through it, on the 
south-west side of the town. 

Grospoja Mouratliska, in whose house Rada was staying, 
hurriedly collected together her children and the most 
precious of her possessions and prepared for flight with the 
rest. She went to Rada and sought to persuade her to 
accompany them. But in spite of all her entreaties, the 
girl remained firm. She refused to leave the house. Kind 
Gospoja MouratUska besought her, on her knees, with tears 
in her eyes, to leav6 at once ; she could not abandon her to 
such a terrible fate. The Turks were already to be seen 
on the heights over the town, and every moment was 
precious. 

" You go, Anitsa dear ; take the children, but leave me 
alone, I beseech you ! " cried Rada, urging her hostess 
to fly. 

Gospoja Mouratliska looked at her terrified. She 
clasped her hands in despair. Through the window the 
Turks could be seen already nearing the town. She did not 
know what to do. 

Evidently it was only despair that could strengthen Rada 
in her unreasoning obstinacy ; and, in truth, she was a prey 
to deep despair. 

Since that terrible encounter between Ognianofi and the 
student, she had remained overwhelmed by the crushing 
contempt of her lover. In her agitation she was unable to 
justify herself, and since then she had not seen him again ; 



244 UNDER THE YOKE 

so that Ognianoff still persisted in his terrible infatuation, 
with his heart filled with hatred and aversion towards her. 
If he was killed in the fight, he would die with a curse on 
his lips and with cruel sufferings at heart. The thought 
filled her with dismay. She had not a moment's rest. Her 
conscience upbraided her for doing nothing when she had it 
in her power to comfort and convince him. The poor 
fellow would die resolutely, desperately ; he had gone to 
seek death — he was not afraid of it. It was her duty at 
least to make his death less painful, to quiet and comfort 
him wdth the thought that he died beloved and idolised. 
Perhaps she might even rescue him from the jaws of death, 
for then he would seek death no longer. She might pre- 
serve him for herself and for the country. But he had never 
once come down into the town. In vain she had tried 
several times on various pretexts to visit the trenches and 
see him just for once, even though she drew down his 
wrathful glance on her. Access to the fortifications was 
ruthlessly denied her. Her only consolation lay in the 
visits of Staika, Kill-the- Bear's bride, and her neighbour. 
Eall-the-Bear had three times come down to the town on 
various errands, and each time had paid his wife a flying 
visit and brought some news of Ognianoff. Thus by means 
of Staika, Rada had learnt that Ognianoff was well in health, 
though much dispirited ; but that was all. During those 
six days, which seemed to her as long as centuries, her love 
for Boicho increased with her sufferings — ^he was so brave 
and so unfortunate. She almost worshipped him now. He 
appeared to her such a chivalrous nature. She saw him in 
the full beauty of his manhood, armed, and with the aureole 
of glory round his brows, meeting death on those heights 
yonder with a bitter smile on his lips, never turning back to 
cast one last look, to whisper one last farewell to her who 
could not live without him, and on whom he had trampled 
with scorn. The night before, when she had met Ivan 
EaU-the-Bear for the first time, she had been unable to 
restrain her feelings, and had wept bitterly before him. The 
good Ivan had consoled her as best he could, and had pro- 
mised to take a letter for her to Boicho, which she had at 
once hurriedly scribbled off in pencil. (For reasons which 
we have already seen this letter reached Ognianoff only as 
the fight began.) But she had not received any reply, not 
even a verbal message ; and her grief and despair knew no 



RADA 245 

bounds. She felt that life would be impossible for her if 
Boicho should carry his scorn with him to the grave, to 
which she had so evidently driven him. Life appeared to 
her hateful, since the source of love and happiness was now 
eternally dried up. What was now left to her ? Hopeless 
sufferings, bitter sorrow, the contempt of the world, and 
despair — everlasting despair. What was her life worth now ? 
To whom could she turn without humbling herself to the 
dust ? Bela Cherkva now appeared to her black and 
hideous as the grave. Should she go and abase herself 
before Hajji E-ovoama again ? or go and beg Marko to 
protect her ? She would have died with shame rather than 
face that good man now. He had surely heard foul 
calumnies about her, and doubtless regretted the good he 
had done her. No, no, Boicho alone could console her and 
save her, and he would die up there ! This Mouratliska 
was quite right in her desire to live. She had something to 
live for ; she had some one to mourn for her, for there was 
some one who loved her. But she, Rada ! She could not 
bear the burden of her unhappiness ; she was too weak. 
She had nothing left in this cruel world, to which no ties 
now united her. Yes, but if Boicho survived ? How 
terribly he would despise her for not being able to justify 
herself ! All the appearances were against her. His wounded 
vanity could not pardon her. The blow dealt to his heart 
and to his pride was a crushing one, and Boicho would 
never, never see her again. She knew that he was not to be 
moved on the point of honour. No, no, she must die 
Now she might meet an easy and even a glorious death 
under the ruins, the noble ruins, of that heroic town. Let 
Gospoja Mouratliska go her way ; she would stay there to 
die ! Yes ! since Boicho had not bidden her to live — had 
not honoured her with a single word of response — she must 
die. And if death should spare him, let him know that 
Rada was an honest girl, that the Bulgarian maiden does 
not fear death, and that she had sacrificed herself to her 
love for him. 

These or such as these were the thoughts, begotten of 
despair, in a tender and sentimental soul, overwhelmed with 
grief, which hovered like clouds in poor Rada's head while 
Gospoja Mouratliska begged and entreated her with tears 
to follow her. But Rada was immovable. 

At that moment cries were heard in the street, Gospoja 



246 UNDER THE YOKE 

Mouratliska looked out of the window : she saw the in- 
surgents in full flight ; she called to one of them : 

" Why, Christo, what's going on up there ? Where's 
Ognianoff ? Where are you all running to ? " 

The insurgent replied, panting : 

" It's all over, Anichka, we're done for ! Ognianoff — ^he's 
still there, poor fellow ! The whole world's topsy-turvy. 
Fly at once towards the VrUshnitsa ! " and the insurgents 
vanished from view. Evidently Christo was from Ognia- 
nofiE's fort. Rada shrieked like a madwoman. Then 
Gospoja MouratHska, seeing that all efforts were useless, 
left the house. 

It was high time, for not long after Rada heard women's 
despairing shrieks from the northern side of the town, which 
was now overrun by the Turks. As she stood overwhelmed 
with grief and terror she saw from the window a crowd of 
bashi-bozouks rushing down a street with drawn swords in 
their hands : they caught up two Bulgarians, who were at 
once cut down. She saw perfectly plainly a red flood 
gushing from the fallen. She saw death — terrible death, in 
its most repulsive form, and was seized with wild fear. The 
desire of life awoke with redoubled force in the young girl, 
and overcame all other feelings, paralysed all her resolutions 
to die with which despair had inspired her. 

She attempted to escape, to save herself from death, or 
from the life these lewd and bloodthirsty assailants might 
have granted her. She opened the door to fly downstairs, 
but at that moment she heard the door of the courtyard 
burst open with a loud crash and through the branches of 
the fruit-trees she saw an armed basbi-bozouk followed by 
another figure hurrying towards the stairs on which she was 
standing transfixed with terror. She turned, fled back to 
the room, bolted the door, and half dead with terror tried to 
conceal herself in the opposite comer. She had scarcely 
done so when a loud knock was heard at the door and a 
fierce frightful voice began to roar outside. As the door 
was not opened the person who sought to enter began to 
kick and hammer at the door. Gradually it cracked and 
yielded on one side : the barrel of a gun immediately 
protruded through the chink, and the door began to be 
forced open. Rada heard the boards crack as they yielded, 
she saw an enormous foot pushing its Wiay through ; the 
assailant was almost in the room. 



THE TWO STREAMS 247 

Then inexpressible terror overcame all her other thoughts. 
Death appeared to her a thousand times preferable to the 
terrible moment which was approaching. She flew to the 
eikonostasis, lighted a taper at the lamp burning before it, 
and hurried to the comer. There on the table stood a sack 
of gunpowder which had evidently been forgotten by the 
insurgents. Rada sat down beside it, took the taper in her 
left hand, and with her right thumb began to force open 
the mouth of the sack : she soon penetrated the coarse 
sacking. 

Just then the door fell to the ground with a loud crash 
and a giantic figure burst into the room. 

Ivan Kill-the-Bear stood before her. 

Behind him was Staika. 

Rada did not see them — she approached the candle to 
the gunpowder. 

CHAPTER XX : THE TWO STREAMS 

At that very moment Ognianoff was far off in the mountain. 

He was the last to leave the fort, the rampart of which 
the Turks were already scaling : he had escaped death by 
a miracle : his cap had been pierced in two places. He 
sought for death, but the instinct of self-preservation, 
stronger than any other feeling, had saved him. 

Now he stood on the summit of the Vrilshnitsa, on its 
left ridge, beneath which flowed the streamlet. 

Tears were coursing down his blackened, blood-stained 
face. Ognianoff was weeping. 

He had stopped to see the terrible picture of the wreck 
of the revolution. He was bareheaded. 

Below him in the valley a panic-stricken throng of 
insurgents, women, and children fled with wild terror 
towards the mountain. The shrieks and groans of these 
unfortunates were clearly audible where he stood. 

On the opposite rock EUissoura in flames lay before him. 

Suddenly his glance fell on his right hand, which was 
blood-stained. He remembered that the blood was 
Kandoff's. And Kandoff reminded him of Rada. His 
hair stood on end ; he sought in his pocket and drew 
out Rada's crumpled letter, which he opened. 

He read the following lines, written in pencil in a weak 
and trembling hand : 



248 UNDER THE YOKE 

" Boicho ! You left me in scorn. I cannot live without 
you. I entreat you to send me one word in reply. If you 
wish it, I will live — I am innocent. Do answer me. 
Boicho, I'm suffering agonies. If you won't, then fare- 
well, farewell, beloved ; I shall find a grave beneath the 
ruins of KHssoura. Had a." 

Inexpressible pain was depicted on Ognianoff's counte- 
nance. He glanced towards the town, where the flames were 
spreading rapidly. At different points of the town fresh 
flames were bursting from the roofs ; their pale red tongues 
shot out and seemed to be licking the air. Dense black 
smoke rolled behind the town and mingled with the clouds 
which had now covered the sky : this made it grow dark 
earlier. The flames spread with great rapidity on every 
side. Their ruddy glare lighted up the valley, the slopes of 
the Ribaritsa, and the waters of the Stara Reka. Ognianoff 
was trying to distinguish the two-storeyed house where 
Gospoja MouratUska lived. He soon found it out and 
recognised with terror the two windows of Rada's room. 
The fire had not yet spread to the house, but around it 
aU was ablaze, and it would soon be in flames. 

" Poor girl, she's there ! oh ! it's horrible, horrible ! " 

And he flung himself down the slope towards the stream. 
He rushed madly do\vn the ravines and thickets and sped 
back towards the mouth of the stream, towards KHssoura. 

The narrow pass of the Vrlishnitsa was blocked by 
fugitives of every sex, age, and condition. That terrified 
human mass, extending along the whole course of the river, 
resembled another stream flowing in the opposite direction. 
The panic had in an hour emptied Klissoura and filled the 
mountain pass. Every one fled panting and panic-stricken, 
as if the pursuer was already close behind. Some had 
hastily snatched up a few clothes as they fled, others carried 
various articles of furniture or other household goods, 
sometimes most useless and cumbersome. The effect was 
occasionally almost comic. Thus a wealthy citizen who 
had left house and home was flying with a large Dutch 
clock under his arm. Further on a woman was carrying 
her sieve, which considerably impeded her flight. Old 
women and girls might be seen flying barefoot over the 
rocks and carrying their shoes in their hands, so as not to 
soil them. Ognianoff at every moment came into collision 



THE TWO STREAMS 249 

with these terrified groups, or tripped over women who had 
fallen fainting to the ground, and were shrieking desperately 
without any one coming to their aid. He saw all these 
horrors as he fled wildly towards the town, bareheaded and 
bewildered with only one thought — to save Rada. In- 
stinctively he sought her among the fear-distorted faces of 
the women and girls whom he met, but in vain — he fled 
on again. These people were strangers to him — they were 
phantoms — they did not exist for him. He could not even 
understand why they were flying — he did not think about 
them, nor did they think about him — no one wondered or 
asked why he was going back when they were all going 
forward. At every step the scenes of horror became more 
frequent and more terrible. At a turning in the pass he 
saw a little girl who had been thrown down in her flight 
and had fallen into the river, where she lay shrieking 
wildly for aid. Further on a baby was crying bitterly for 
its mother, who had apparently deserted it as an encum- 
brance in her flight. Old women, men, mothers passed by 
the poor creature, but no one saw or heard it. Every one 
thought only of himseK. Fear hardens the heart and is the 
highest and most loathsome form of egoism. Shame itself 
does not so abase the human countenance as terror. 
Ognianoff mechanically stooped, picked up the child, and 
went on his way. In a thicket at the side of the path a 
woman lay groaning in travail with a face distorted with 
suffering. She held out her hands to implore the passers-by 
for aid. Groans, piercing shrieks, and the waihng of 
children filled the air. As if to crown all this misery rain 
began to pour in torrents. The storm increased in fury 
every moment : foaming streams soon flowed down the 
slopes towards the river, drenching the feet of the unhappy 
fugitives, while the rain beat against their faces and soaked 
their garments ; children dragged along by their mothers 
uttered heartrending shrieks as they slipped and fell in the 
torrent. The cries and lamentations grew louder and louder. 
The rocks on each side of the pass reverberated the 
wild echo, to which the roar of the swollen river was now 
added. Suddenly Ognianoff recognised a woman in an 
approaching group of fugitives — the first person he had 
noticed in that procession. It was Gospoja Mouratliska, 
with one baby in her arms, and three older children follow- 
ing behind. 



250 UNDER THE YOKE 

" Where is Rada ? '' he asked. 

She was unable to speak, and could only point in the 
direction of the town. 

" In your house ? " 

" Yes, yes, make haste," she could hardly mutter. 

Weak as she was, Gospoja Mouratliska kept on her way 
energetically, though her face showed how exhausted she 
was by the almost impassable path. But energy replaced 
muscular force with her, and she had inspired her children 
with it. 

" Where are you carrying that child to ? " she asked in a 
faint voice, scarcely audible in the turmoil. 

Ognianoff looked down . He hardly knew he was carrying 
the child, and had no recollection of having picked it up. 

He looked at Gospoja Mouratliska, bewildered. 

" Give it to me, give it to me." 

And she took the child from Ognianoff, pressed it to 
the left side of her dripping breast, on the right side of 
which nestled her own child, and went on. It was quite 
dark when OgnianofE reached the mouth of the Vrlishnitsa. 

From there the whole of Klissoura was visible. The 
rain had extinguished most of the fires, but here and 
there flames still flickered under the roofs and threw 
from the windows a lurid glare upon the town. Now 
and then a house would fall in with a loud crash, and the 
flames shot out and spread to other houses. Suddenly 
Ognianoff saw a new fire break out in the southern part 
of the town. Great flames and showers of sparks burst 
forth and scattered in every direction. Ognianofl recog- 
nised Gospoja Mouratliska 's house in the midst of the 
flames : just then the upper storey fell in with a cloud 
of flames and yellow smoke. Rada's room was there ! 

He flung himself like a madman into the flaming streets, 
filled with infuriated Turks, and was lost to sight. 



PART III 

CHAPTER I : A RETROSPECT 

In a few days the insurrection * was everywhere stamped 
out. 

The contest died away — its place was taken by panic fear. 
The revolution ended in capitulation. History furnishes 
examples of risings as sacred and as ill-fated, but of none 
so tragically inglorious. 

The April insurrection was like a still-bom child, con- 
ceived under the impulse of the most ardent love, and 
stifled by its mother in horror at its birth. It expired before 
it was born. 

The insurrection has no history — it was too short-hved 
for that. 

Golden hopes, profound faith, gigantic strength and en- 
thusiasm, the heritaeg of centuries of suffering, all vanished 
in a moment. It was a terrible awakening. 

And how many martyrs it caused — how many victims — 
how many deaths and downfalls ! Ay ! and some slight 
heroism — but what heroism ! 

Peroushtitsa was its Saragoza. But Peroushtitsa has no 
place in the history of the world. 

Batak ! f that is the only name which has shone out amid 
the struggle ; out of the flames and the smoke it has 
blazed forth over the whole world, and has perpetuated its 
memory among the nations. 

Batak — a worthy characteristic of our revolt : fate some- 
time perpetrates such puns.t But if the rising gave us 
Batak, it also raised up for us Alexander II. 

If this movement, and its ill-fated results, had not brought 
on the war of liberation, then it would have been pitilessly 

* The three places where the revolutionary movement was most 
serious were : Panaghiourishte (in Turkish Otlouk Keui), Koprivshtitsa 
(in Turkish Avrat Alan), and Peroushtitsa. According to the official 
report by Mr. Baring (see the Blue Book, issued in 1877, p. 149), at 
Panaghiourishte 760 Bulgarians were killed, 14 Mussulmans having 
been slain there at the beginning of the outbreak ; at Koprivshtitsa, 130 
Bulgarians fell, while 72 Mussulmans were first kUled ; Peroushtitsa, 
after some resistance, was captured and burnt by Rashid Pasha on May 
12, 1876 ; 750 Bulgarians are officially reported to have fallen there. 

f At Batak the terrible massacre of almost the entire population was 
treacherously efifected by Ahmed Aga of Tumrush. 

1 The Turkish word " Batak " means a snare, a pitfall : lit, marah. 

261 



252 UNDER THE YOKE 

condemned on all sides ; common sense would have stig- 
matised it as folly ; nations would have set it down as a 
disgrace, and history — a meretricious harlot that bows only 
before success — would have branded it as a crime. Poetry 
alone might have forgiven it and crowned it with the laurel 
of the hero, in memory of the patriotic infatuation which 
urged the humble AnatoUan cloth- workers to take their stand 
on the heights of the Sredna Gora — those sublime heights ! 
— with their hollow cherry-tree cannon. 

It was a poetic folly : for young nations, like young 

people, are poetical. 

***** 

Ognianoff had for three days and three nights been 
wandering upon the Starna Planina. He kept on towards 
the east, so as to reach Bela Cherkva, being quite ignorant 
of what was going on there. It is a six hours' journey from 
Klissoura in ordinary times, but for a rebel flying from the 
gallows sixty hours are insufficient. 

During the day Ognianoff crouched in the woods and 
thickets ; he slept in copses of trees, like a wild beast, to 
avoid being seen by the patrols ; and at night he wandered 
along the dark and deserted paths, at random — sometimes 
going backward instead of forward . He lived on grass — that 
is to say, he was as hungry as a woK. He did not dare to beg 
for hospitality at the sparsely scattered huts on the Balkan 
— the probabihty was only too great thatjhe would be roughly 
repulsed, through terror, or else betrayed to the Turks. 

Often as he shivered on some mountain peak he could 
see a red glare in the sky, to the south. First of all he took 
this celestial phenomenon to be the after-glow of the sunset. 
But as night went on the glare became still brighter and 
extended over a still wider horizon. It was like the 
reflection of an aurora borealis appearing in the south. 

It was caused by the flames that reduced many a 
flourishing village to ashes. 

It was a terrible but majestic sight. 

Through a gap in the Balkan the view to the south 
became more extensive. Ognianoff saw with horror that 
the Sredna Gora was in flames. It was like a volcano 
emitting fire from twenty craters at once. The whole 
firmament was lit up by the fires. 

Ognianoff tore out his hair. 

" It's the ruin, the ruin of Bulgaria ! " he said in despair 



A SHEPHERD'S HOSPITALITY 253 

as he saw the flames. " This is the result of our sacred 
efforts. This is what our ardent hopes have come to : blood 
and fire ! My God ! my God ! And there," he added, 
pointing towards Klissoura, " there my heart lies under the 
ruins. My two ideals were scattered at the same time — ^the 
two idols I worshipped. I am like a lifeless phantom, that 
cannot find its grave ! " 

He resembled, if not a phantom, a skeleton. To every 
sheepfold and Bulgarian hut strict instructions had been 
given not to afford hospitality to any suspicious-looking 
wayfarer. The Bulgarians did even more : they pursued all 
such and hastened to inform the patrol ; indeed, their zeal 
often went so far that they finished off with a bullet some 
wounded or half-starved insurgent. A fortnight before, 
these same shepherds had welcomed the apostles as the 
dearest of guests. The Stara Planina, that kindly mother 
of brave lads sung of in many a brigand song and old 
legend, proved herself a cruel stepmother. The panic and 
cowardly baseness of cities and villages bad migrated to her 
most deserted glades, and taken up their abode in her 
brigand fastnesses and wildest solitudes. 

CHAPTER n : A SHEPHERD'S HOSPITALITY 

That night Ognianoff slept in a thicket which covered the 
northern slope of one of the spurs to the east of the bare 
Ribaritsa. 

He was emaciated by hunger and exhaustion — he had 
eaten nothing but grass and herbs during those three days, 
and a hundred yards away he could see a sheepfold, where 
bread, cheese, and milk were to be had. He was in the 
position of Tantalus, condemned to eternal thirst before a 
cold stream of which he could not drink. 

But the wolf never dies of starvation when there is a flock 
of sheep to attack. The teeth of the watchdogs are not so 
sharp as the pangs of hunger. Ognianoff resolved to follow 
the wolf's example. He left the thicket, crossed the brook, 
and walked firmly towards the shepherd's hut. 

There were two women in the hut, the shepherd's mother 
and his wife, mending clothes, and two boys, engaged in 
plaiting something. The dogs were probably with the herd 
somewhere close by. 

The women screamed when they saw this stranger, 



254 UNDER THE YOKE 

bareheaded, blood-stained, with his eyes starting from his 
head. 

" What do you want ? " cried some one from outside. 

A tall, grey-haired old shepherd appeared with his gun on 
his shoulder. 

Ognianoff recognised him as the Greek shepherd Yani, 
who often came down to Bela Cherkva to sell his butter, and 
who knevv^ him quite well. 

" Good morning, Master Yani ; give me a piece of bread, 
in God's name," said Boicho hurriedly, to show his pacific 
intentions. 

The shepherd examined him from head to foot. Whether 
he recognised him or not, the scrutiny seemed to displease 
him. He entered the hut with a frown, broke off haK a cake 
of bread, and at the same time whispered something to one 
of the boys. 

" There, you'd better be off, or there'll be trouble. 
Some one'U see you here. Christian," he said sternly, as he 
gave Ognianoff the bread. 

Ognianoff thanked him, and hurried towards the stream 
to hide himseff again in the thicket where he had spent the 
night. 

" My God ! " he thought to himself with bitterness, " this 
half -savage Greek had pity on me, while the Bulgarians 
drove me from their huts yesterday with their dogs, like a 
wild beast." 

Ognianoff swallowed his bread hurriedly and greedily, 
while his eyes lighted up with eagerness. Famine had 
dimmed the noble fire of his glance, which had become dull 
and fierce as a beast's. At that moment Ognianoff would 
have refused to share his bread with his father, for hunger 
is a more savage counsellor than despair itself. 

Boicho quenched his thirst at the stream, and began to 
make his way up the slope towards the thicket. He felt 
the beneficent action of the food ; his forces seemed to be 
returning. But just as he had reached the cover the sound 
of distant voices made him turn round. From the hill on 
which the sheepfold stood, a band of Circassians were rush- 
ing towards him, and beckoning to him to stop. Before 
them ran several dogs. (As is well known, the patrols at 
this terrible time consisted chiefly of Circassians, who were 
accompanied by hounds trained to follow the track of a man 
and to hurl themselves at him.) On the top of the hill stood 



A SHEPHERD'S HOSPITALITY 255 

Master Yani, in his white wrapper of coarse homespun, 
watching with curiosity the chase he had prepared ; for, 
while breaking off the piece of bread he had given the fugi- 
tive, he had sent his boy to give notice to the nearest patrol. 

Hospitality and treachery — these two harmonised simul- 
taneously with the cunning nature of that semi-savage 
nomad. He had carried out both with perfect conscien- 
tiousness. In feeding the hungry he had accomplished a 
duty of humanity ; in betraying the rebel he had relieved 
himself of all unpleasant consequences. He now watched 
the result quietly. 

Ognianoff saw the danger that awaited him. With his 
unfailmg presence of mind, which so often deserts one at 
moments of danger, he began to calculate his chances. 
Across the stream there was a sHght acclivity which might 
conceal him for a minute or two from the eyes of the patrol 
while they rushed down the slope on the other side. During 
that time he might gain the thicket ; but that would avail 
him nothing — they would soon reach him there. It was 
hopeless to attempt to escape by flight from the bullets 
and the hounds. In the brook itself there were low bushes 
between the two steep banks ; but he could not conceal 
himself there, for, even if he escaped the notice of his 
pursuers, the dogs would soon find him out. Everywhere 
there was destruction for him ! But there was no time to 
hesitate — he must make up his mind. Instinctively he 
chose the brook, and dashed dowai the slope like lightning. 
In a moment he was wading among the bushes in the 
brook, the banks of which were rocky. At the foot of the 
rock deep cavities gaped, as if they had been dug out. 
Ognianoff crept into one of these lairs, and determined to 
sell his life dearly. 

For some seconds he listened, revolver in hand : those 
seconds seemed hours. The barking approached — then grew 
fainter, and gradually died away. He waited. What could 
this mean ? The patrol had evidently lost his track, but 
not for long. Ognianoff guessed that they were looking for 
him in the thicket, and that, not finding him there, they 
would naturally search the stream, where the dogs w ould at 
once discover him. The animals' instinct would not be at 
fault a second time. How long his agony of anxiety lasted 
he never knew. His eyes were fixed on the stream, with its 
scanty bushes which rustled in the water. Every moment 



256 UNDER THE YOKE 

he expected to see the muzzles of the hounds — the animal 
seemed to be fatal to him — ^plunged into the cave where he 
was, or to hear their bay. 

Suddenly he heard a dog bark. His eyes swelled out and 
grew fierce ; his hair stood on end ; he clutched his revolver 
convulsively. 



CHAPTER III : TO THE NORTH 

The barking which Ognianoff had heard close by to the 
right was not repeated. It was replaced by another sound, 
the sound of human footsteps. Several men were coming 
that way, down the hill, for the ravine crumbled beneath 
their feet, and pebbles rolled down to the very mouth of the 
cave where the fugitive was secreted. Soon he saw two 
sandalled feet pass by the opening — two more followed, and 
were succeeded by a third pair : these all passed silently and 
noiselessly. Yet a fourth appeared. But instead of going 
by he stopped and stooped down. Ognianoff saw the 
profile of an enormous elongated head — the head of a 
gorilla : the owner of the head was tying up the fastening of 
his sandal, which had become loose and was dragging. 

Ognianoff remained like a statue, with his revolver 
pointed towards the outlet. 

The head looked into the cave : then it was raised, and a 
shrill whistle sounded. This was evidently a signal for the 
others to return. 

The head again bent down and peeped in — Ognianoff 
resolved to fire. 

" Who's there ? " asked a sonorous voice. 

*' Ivan ! " cried Ognianoff, thunderstruck. 

For in truth it was Ivan Kill- the- Bear. 

" Why, it's the teacher ! " cried the others, who had now 
come up. Ivan KjiU-the- Bear, without waiting to be asked, 
crawled into the cave and pressed Ognianoff's hands with 
tears in his eyes. The other three followed. They were all 
from Klissoura. 

Boicho's first question was : " What was that dog 
barking ? " 

The Klissouriots answered : 

" There wasn't any dog — it was Kill-the-Bear.'* 

Ognianoff smiled as he remembered the giant's pecu- 
liarity. He assailed them with questions. 



TO THE NORTH 257 

" We've made a pretty mess of it God bless its soul," 
sighed Kill-the-Bear in a voice of thunder. 

" Courage, Ivan my boy ! Grod won't desert Bulgaria ! " 

" Yes, but Klissoura's done for," declared one of the 
Klissourists, gloomily. 

" There's nothing left of it but ashes," added the second. 

" Dear ! dear ! " sighed the other. 

" What's the good of crying over it now, brothers ? We 
did our best — and failed. Courage and patience. Our 
sacrifices won't have been useless. . . . Have you had 
anything to eat ? " 

" We haven't seen a piece of bread since we took to the 
mountain," answered one of them, almost tearfully. 
Indeed, there was no need to say it : Ognianoff saw their 
famished and emaciated countenances. He divided what 
was left of his bread and gave it to his three guests. 

They fell to ravenously. Only Kill-the-Bear declined. 

*' Keep the bread for yourself — you want it. I've got my 
dinner here ; " and Eall-the-Bear took from his bag a hare, 
skinned and bloody. He puUed off a piece, dipped it in 
the salt, and began to devour it with his sharp teeth. 

" Yes, but it's raw ? " 

" Raw or not, it's all one to a hungry man. Flying 
rebels can't light fires," said Kill-the-Bear, as he munched 
the tough flesh. " These Christians turn up their noses at 
meat ; they'd rather feed on grass, like tortoises," he added, 
wiping the hare's blood from his lips. 

" How did you kill the hare ? Did you fire at it ? " asked 
Boicho with some curiosity. 

" I killed the hare because 1 didn't fall in with a wild 
boar ; if I had, I'd have caught that and throttled it." 

In truth, Kill-the-Bear had surprised and caught the hare 
in a thicket, without firing at it. 

" But what made you get into that bear-pit ? " asked the 
giant, looking round the cavern. 

" There was a Circassian patrol after me, and how they 
lost my trail I can't think : they had dogs with them." 

" Oh, that's why you asked about the barking, is it ? 
Well, the dogs must have come upon the scent of some other 
game — a hare, likely ; take my wordf or it, they went after that. 
Kill-the-Bearknowssomethingof that kind of thing. ..." 

" That must be the heathens we saw right away over 
there on the other side," said one of them. 



258 UNDER THE YOKE 

" May God destroy them ! You can't show your head for 
fear of patrols ; the Balkan's black with Turks and Cir- 
cassians. God bless you for the bread, Ognianofif. I'd 
have been done for mthout it." 

(^nianoff began to feel relieved. He saw that he had 
been saved only by a miracle, not for the first time in his 
Ufe. 

" Where are you going now ? " 

" We'll try to get through to Roumania. And you ? " 

" For the last three days I've been making for Bela 
Cherkva, and you see where I've got to." 

One of the Klissouriots remarked : 

" Ah, they're a cunning lot at Bela Cherkva : they 
haven't risen, not they — ^they know better than that." 

This was said in tones of anger : not so much because 
Bela Cherkva had not revolted, but more from envy that it 
had not suffered Uke the rest. Alas ! such is human nature: 
all sufferings are endured more easily when one knows 
they are shared by others, even though these be one's 
friends and relations. It is that cruel feeling, so strongly 
developed in our hearts, which stimulates the soldier to 
heroism and gives him unflinching courage in the presence 
of death while his comrades fall right and left round him. 
Leave the hero by himself, exposed to danger, and he will 
fly in panic fear. One of our proverbs says : " What's for 
the whole world is Hke a marriage-feast." 

" Have you heard anything about Bela Cherkva ? " asked 
Ognianoff. 

" Don't I tell you ? They've shown themselves very 
smart. We were the only ones ready to liberate the 
Bulgarian kingdom ! " 

" It's wonderful — ^wonderful ! " said Ognianoff, thought- 
fully. " Everything was prepared, and they were all so 
keen at Bela Cherkva." 

" Well, never mind — it's better so. What'd be the good 
of their being burnt down too ? " 

" I say, have you seen the sky at night — ^how red it 
is ? What a heap of villages they must have burnt," said 
another. 

" Yes, yes, I've seen it," said Ognianoff, gloomily. 

" The world's topsy-turvy. Call that a revolt ? It was 
a disgrace ! And we, poor fools, we're still in for it. Let 
them as deceived the nation give an account of it to 



TO THE NORTH 259 

God ! Why couldn't they keep quiet till things were 
ready ? " 

Ognianoff listened silently to these reproaches. They 
grieved him, but he could not resent them. If not quite 
justifiable, they were at least most natural in the mouths of 
the poor ruined victims. He himself had in his mind more 
than once reproached the people, just as they reproached 
their leaders : such are the sad but logical consequences of 
failure. 

" Come, it's no good snivelling — God knows what's 
happened. It was written by God and the Blessed Virgin : 
if Klissoura's lost, Bulgaria isn't lost, is it ? " said Kill-the- 
Bear, trying to console them. 

" I say, Ivan, what's become of the wife ? Where have 
you sent her to ? " asked Boicho. 

" Staika ? Oh, she's all right, God bless her soul. I took 

her to Altinovo, and from there Well, I never. I 

forgot to tell you about the schoolmistress ! " 

Ognianoff started at these words. He had a presenti- 
ment of Rada's fate, but did not dare to ask about the 
terrible story. He had seen in the night how the house fell 
in ruin, with the flames around it on all sides ; the girl must 
have been crushed to death there — if, indeed, she had not 
put an end to her life before. He had come too late to save 
her, and this thought lay like a terrible weight on his soul. 
Besides, some other feeling he dared not analyse agitated 
and tortured his whole soul. 

" It was touch and go with her, bless her pretty soul." 

" What ! — is she alive ? " cried Boicho. 

" Yes, yes, teacher ; but if it hadn't been for Kill-the- 
Bear " 

" Where is she now ? " asked Boicho, excitedly, as if he 
wished to read the whole story in a moment upon Ivan's 
great, rough, kindly face. 

" Don't be afraid — she's in good hands," said Kill-the- 
Bear, reassuringly. 

An ineffable feeling of rehef came over Boicho. His face 
beamed as he said with emotion to the giant : 

" Thanks, thanks, Ivan ! You've relieved me of a 
frightful torture ! " 

" Well," added Ivan, " it's a good thing Staika told me in 
time. You see, Anichka met Staika as she was leaving the 
bouse, and said to her : * Staika, tell Ivan (that's me) that 



260 UNDER THE YOKE 

Rada won't fly, for all my begging her ; but don't leave her 
there, poor thmg ; take her away by force.' When I heard 
that, God bless its soul, what was I to do ? When I got 
in, she locked the door. I hammered and shouted ; she 
wouldn't open — I had to break the door in. What do I 
see ? There she was at the table, holding a Ughted candle 
to a canvas bag." 

" The bag of gunpowder ! " cried Ognianoff, shuddering 
as he thought of the death Rada had prepared for herself. 

" That's it — the gunpowder. Enough to blow the whole 
place up to the sky in a thousand pieces. There's a silly 
girl for you ! But 1 didn't know it was powder," continued 
Kill-the-Bear ; " and I went straight up to her. Well, 
whether God did it, or whether there was a draught from 
the door, the candle blew out. ' What are you doing there, 
teacher ? ' says I. ' Everybody's off to the mountain. 
What are you stopping here for ? ' And I takes hold of her, 
and off we go to the Balkan, with Staika following behind. 
Staika kept telling her it was all right, while she cried and 
groaned. My stars, teacher, how she did cry for you ! I 
made sure you were killed, but I wouldn't tell her so. I 
said, ' The teacher's safe and sound, teacher ; never fear, 
teacher.' But we were late ; the Vrlishnitsa was full of 
Turks ; there was no getting through . Here's a fix — ^what's 
to be done ? Well, we took to the mountain, and got to 
our village at midnight. I took the teacher and Staika to 
our Vlko — my brother-in-law — and made for the Stara 
Planina. And here you are alive — God bless your soul ! " 

Ognianoff silently pressed EdU-the-Bear's hands. 

" I left them at Altinovo, but they must be at Bela 
Cherkva by now. Vlko was going to take them there in 
the morning, dressed as Turkish women. It's frightful just 
now with the Turks at Altinovo ; but they say things are 
quiet at Bela Cherkva. When you get there, teacher, find 
out Staika — ^my %vife, that is — and give her my kind love. 
Say you saw me here, fit and well, and living on roast hare 
and white bread, so as she shan't fret." 

" Yes ; but I don't think I shall go to Bela Cherkva now, 
Ivan." 

Kill-the-Bear looked at him in surprise. 

" What ! You're not going ? " 

" No ; I don't want to, now." 

" And where are you going, then ? " 



TO THE NORTH 261 

"We'll see." 

" Then come with us to Roumania." 

" No ; you'd better go by yourselves, and even separate. 
It doesn't do for too many to go together." 

The darkness of the night had now spread over the valley 
and penetrated the cave. The brook rippled past mourn- 
fully. The fugitives could hardly see one another. Kill- 
the-Bear and his comrades rose to go. 

" Come, teacher, let's kiss each other before we go. God 
knows which of us 'U survive ! " said Kill-the-Bear. 

They took leave of each other, and separated. 

Ognianoff remained alone. He threw himself on the 
ground, face downwards, and sobbed like a child. 

The long pent-up volcano of suffering now burst from his 
heart in a flood of tears. It was the first time that that man 
of iron had ever wept aloud. His strength of mind had 
given way. Suffering, cruel disappointment, the pangs of 
conscience, regret for the countless victims sacrificed so 
uselessly ; his love destroyed without hope of revival ; grief, 
inconsolable grief at his sohtude, and detestatiom of life — a 
whole series of reminiscences, some bright, others gloomy, 
but all bitter alike : all these flowed forth in his tears. He 
had encouraged those poor people who had lost their all in 
the fire kindled by him and his comrades, while he himself 
was crushed and disconsolate. He had tacitly brought 
down this terrible punishment upon them. He had made 
an effort to restrain himself before the Klissouriots, while 
blood was flowing from his heart, which throbbed within 
him like a wounded snake. And that Rada, too ! He 
could not forget her — she had wept also. He was vexed 
with himself for thinking of his own personal sorrows before 
his country's ruin ; but he could not help it. Never mind ; 
that was all over now. Every tie was broken. He would 
never return to Bela Cherkva — the cradle of his love. It 
appeared him black and gloomy as a grave now. He 
had told her at Klissoura that all was over between them : 
he had withered her with his glance, trampled upon her in 
scorn. True, he had risked his life in the flames to try and 
save her, but he had done so through some other impulse — 
not from love ; perhaps from a feehng of chivalry — almost 
unconsciously. No, he would not go there to gaze upon 
his fallen idol — not even from afar : his pride revolted at 
the thought. He would make for Roumania ; he would get 



262 UNDER THE YOKE 

there somehow, like so mjany others. At Bela Cherkva he 
could only hide himself like a wild beast, at the risk of 
being betrayed bj^ his enemies ; besides, there was nothing 
for him to do there. In Roumania, that hospitable land of 
freedom, he might still work for Bulgaria until her wounds 
were healed : there he could breathe freely once more. To 
the North— to the North ! 

And Ognianoff turned his steps northwards. 

The sky was cloudy. Utter darkness reigned over the 
silent solitudes of the mountain. 

All night he wandered over the peaks and across the 
valleys, avoiding as far as possible his former direction. 
His new resolution gave him redoubled strength, which the 
food he had eaten contributed to increase. 

At dawn he stood on a mountain peak : before him 
stretched a broad green plain to the south. He recognised 
the valley of the Strema. Bela Cherkva lay at the foot of 
the mountain. He bowed silently to destiny. 

CHAPTER IV : THE FLAG 

Ognianoff, as though awakening from deep slumber, saw 
too late that he had come to the very place he was seeking 
to avoid. 

He had taken the wrong direction : he was on the bare 
rock above Bela Cherkva, far from any thicket or other 
place of concealment : to seek to retrace his steps would 
be madly to rush into destruction. The only thing left for 
him to do, was to plunge into the deep valley of the 
Monastery stream, which afforded a good shelter, and from 
thence to make his way as best he could. 

But when he reached the springs from which the 
Monastery stream takes its rise, and saw the scanty fir- 
thickets on the rocky slope, the sight of these familiar 
scenes at once changed his resolution. 

" No ! " he said, " I'll stop in this brushwood all day and 
start back again to-night. I'll manage to get a change 
of clothes in some Balkan village, and then off to Roumania. 
Never, never again to Rada ! " 

And he lay down to rest beneath the pines, in the tall 
weeds and grass which rendered him invisible. For hours 
he lay there patiently waiting for nightfall. 

Late in the afternoon Ognianoff suddenly remarked on the 



THE SLAIN 263 

heights behind him something black streaming and fluttering 
in the wind. It resembled some gigantic bird waving its 
motionless wings in the air. He gazed at it with surprise. 

" It's a flag ! " he said in amazement. He saw that 
it was a red banner planted among the rocks at the summit. 
The wind was peacefully waving the flag, which must be 
easily visible at Bela Cherkva. 

No one was to be seen near the flag. Who could have 
planted it there ? For what reason ? Was it a signal of 
revolt ? Ognianoff took it to be the latter. There could be 
no other rational explanation of its presence there. 

Ognianoff could no longer restrain himself. Dismissing 
all thought of further precaution, he hurriedly left his 
hiding-place, hastened up the heights from whence he had 
descended, and gazed attentively towards Bela Cherkva. 
It seemed to him that he could hear distant reports of guns 
being fired. Where could they be coming from ? He 
strained his eyes in the direction of the town. Thanks to 
the extraordinary clearness of the atmosphere, he was able 
to discern white puffs of smoke, such as are emitted by 
firearms, at the upper end of the town. 

" It's a revolt — a revolt at Bela Cherkva ! " he cried 
joyously : " my true comrades Sokoloff, Popoff, and Micho 
haven't been standing with their arms folded. The revolt 
must have broken out in other places as well. This flag 
must be the sign agreed on. The smouldering flamejhas 
burst out at length. My God ! there's still some hope left!'* 
And he flew down the steep cHff as though he had wings. 

CHAPTER V : THE SLAIN 

It was completely dark when Ognianoff emerged from the 

black and rocky vaUey of the Monastery stream. 

He passed by the Monastery, but did not think it neces- 
sary to look in to see Father Natanafl : it would have been 
a loss of precious time. The thought that the revolt had at 
last broken out at Bela Cherkva had as it were galvanised 
him and restored to him all his moral and physical forces. 

He took the main road to the town, and soon distin- 
guished in the dark the black outHne of the famiHar houses, 
chimneys, and trees. Then he left the road and cHmbed 
the hillock which rises above Bela Cherkva to the north, 
and at the foot of which the schoolhouse lay. 



264 UNDER THE YOKE 

From that height he searched the city with his gaze ; all 
seemed wrapped in slumber ; there was no light anyivhere ; 
he could discern no noise or any other sign that a revolt 
had broken out in the town ; the only sign was the usual 
barking of the dogs. This surprised Ognianoff : he began 
to wonder what was to be done. To go down into the 
town and knock at a friend's door seemed to him impru- 
dent, to say the least. He resolved to go to the boys' 
school, which was close by : the old caretaker could give 
him such news as she had of what was going on in the town. 
He hastened down towards the western side of the school, 
and chmbed the fence which surrounded its enclosure. On 
examining the place, he found that he was in the cemetery, 
which took up the greater part of the yard. In the middle 
the ancient church loomed tall and silent, itself like a 
gigantic tombstone. At the end of the courtyard could be 
seen the black mass of the school buildings, all plunged in 
darkness and slumbering. This deadly silence which greeted 
Ognianoff, instead of all the noise and confusion to be 
expected in a revolted city, took him by surprise and 
inspired him with the gloomiest forebodings. A cold wind 
seemed to issue from the terrible quiet and darkness of the 
gravestones : these loomed silently before Ognianoff's eyes 
with those mysterious shapes which night lends to every 
object ; they seemed like living creatures, or Hke the dead 
emerging as far as the waist from the graves. He could 
not restrain a painful feeling at heart — a secret desire to 
leave as soon as possible that chilly abode of darkness and 
mystery. At such an hour the human soul is overcome 
with involuntary terror. Our nature cannot endure any 
contact with the other world without a cold shudder. The 
cofl&n-lid which falls over the corpse divides the two worlds, 
which do not recognise one another, which are at enmity 
together. Mystery and darkness instil terror. . Night is an 
enemy, a grave is a mystery. Few are so brave as to pass 
unmoved through a cemetery at night, or so impious as to 
laugh at such an hour — their very laughter would appal 
them. Who knows if Hamlet would have jested so airily 
upon skulls if alone at night in a graveyard ? 

Suddenly, through the dark, to which his eye had now 
become accustomed, Ognianoff remarked a dim, motionless 
light, almost like an eye, issuing from the church itself 
through the low window. It must be a candle or a taper. 
This faint light was a welcome break in the darkness, the 



THE SLAIN 265 

only sign of life visible in the town — it flickered so hos- 
pitably and almost gaily. Impelled by an invincible curi- 
osity, Ognianoff advanced over the tombstones, approached 
the window in which the light was shining, and looked 
through. The candle was burning in the great brass candle- 
stick near one of the columns of the church. Its dim light 
scarcely threw a faint flicker a few feet round the candlestick 
on the floor. The rest of the church was in darkness. 
Within that dimly -lighted circle Ognianoff remarked certain 
indistinct forms laid out. There was something there. 
What could it be ? He pressed his forehead to the glass 
and peered in. Then he saw what it was. Three human 
figures lay there on the matting — three corpses. Upon 
them and on the matting were deep stains of blood. The 
candle threw a tremulous and shrinking hght upon the 
scene. The faces, distorted, and with gaping mouths, bore 
the signs of a painful death. The eyes of one of them, 
staring wide, seemed to be looking fiercely and reprovingly 
at some point on the dark ceiling of the church. The other 
had fallen forward. One eye on which the candle-light fell 
seemed glaring straight at Ognianoff's window. The 
apostle's hair stood on end. Yet he could not tear himself 
away from the window. The dead man's glance held him 
there transfixed — like a living man's who recognises you and 
wishes you to recognise him. Suddenly Ognianoff started 
with a cry. It was Kandoff. There was a deep wound 
under his chin. He was killed. 

Ognianoff left this terrible sight and hurriedly retraced 
his steps. How could Kandoff have come, wounded, to 
Bela Cherkva ? How had they been killed here, he and the 
others ? Had there been a revolt in which he had fallen a 
victim, or else had he simply sought death — simply revealed 
himself and been killed ? What was the meaning of the flag 
on the Balkan and the flring in the town, and this silence 
now ? Ognianoff could not think of any answer to these 
questions. Clearly some great misfortune had happened. 
He pondered over what he should do nexfc. To enter the 
town now at night and knock at any door, in his complete 
ignorance of what had taken place, would be reckless. This 
death-like silence which prevailed at Bela Cherkva froze his 
very soul. It was more terrible than the most unwelcome 
sound. He resolved to wait for dawn in the Monastery 
valley, and to see what was to be done in the morning. 

And he climbed back over the fence again. 



266 UNDER THE YOKE 

CHAPTER VI : THE MESSENGER 

Ognianoff spent that night in a deserted mill on the 

Monastery stream. 

Very early in the morning he climbed up the slope 
behind the sacred spring,* where the great rocks lay 
scattered about as if they had been thrown down there. He 
lay hid among these unperceived ; from that height he could 
see everything that went on below. 

The valley was still deserted. The stream murmured as 
it flowed between its banks of granite : the mills and a few 
water-wheels groaned and rumbled. The heavens were 
clear and blue ; the first rays of the morning sun had just 
reached the top of the Balkan ridge. The early swallows 
flashed through the air, pursued each other in twittering 
zigzags and bathed in invisible water. The morning breeze 
rustled among the weeds with which the rocks were over- 
grown : over the green plain the golden rays of the sun 
gradually spread — they reached the black clump of pines, 
penetrated the weeds, and gilded the height on which 
Ognianoff stood. But as yet no one appeared on the path. 
OgnianofE was weary of waiting in that place : the uncer- 
tainty began to be insupportable. He fixed his eyes on the 
valley in the hope of seeing some one from whom he might 
learn what was going on, and, if possible, beg a change of 
clothes, so as to make his entry into Bela Cherkva less 
perilous. But no one appeared, and the fugitive was grow- 
ing more impatient every minute. Only the noise of the 
stream replied to his disquieted soul. 

At last his eyes flashed with satisfaction. The door of a 
mill opened ; a little girl came out and began to bathe her 
face in the stream. 

" It's Marika ! " cried Ognianoff joyfully, for his piercing 
glance had recognised the girl as poor old Stoyan's orphan 
daughter. He now remembered that since her father's 
death she had lived with her uncle at the mill. Providence 
was coming to his aid. 

In a moment he had made his way down to the river, and 
crouching behind a rock, he called her by her name. 

Marika was already drying her face with her apron. She 

* Sacred springs {aylacrfjca) are common in the East, and much 
resorted to on the special saint's day to whom they are consecrated, by 
votaries of all creeds. 



THE MESSENGER 267 

turned round and recognised Boicho at once. She ran 
towards him. 

" Is that you, Boicho ? " she asked. 

" Come here, Marika," cried Ognianoff from his hiding- 
place. 

The girl looked at Ognianoff with eyes wide with pleased 
surprise. His face was terribly emaciated, his clothes 
ragged and blood-stained, he was bare-headed, exhausted, as 
is natural in a man who for ten days and nights has battled 
with hardships, sleeplessness, pursuers, the elements, 
hunger, want, and danger at every step. Any other person 
appearing at that hour and in that solitude would have 
frightened the girl, but Ognianoff exercised a strange 
fascination over her. 

" What's going on in town, Marika ? " was his first 
question. 

" The Turks are there, Boicho." 

Ognianoff clasped his forehead with both hands and 
began to think. 

" What was the firing about yesterday, do you know ? '* 

" Yesterday, Boicho ? I don't know, Boicho." 

" Didn't you hear the guns ? " 

*' No, Boicho, I wasn't in town yesterday." Marika did 
not know what to answer, but Boicho now saw what had 
happened. There had been an attempt at insurrection, 
which had been immediately stamped out by the Turks, 
who were now masters of Bela Cherkva. He had come 
too late. An hour or two earlier, perhaps, his presence 
might have given affairs a different turn. This delay was 
one of those fatalities which sometimes exercise an influence 
on the destinies of nations. 

After two minutes' thought, Ognianoff asked : 

" Is there any one else at the mill, Marika ? " 

" Only Uncle Mancho — he's still asleep." 

" Marika, do you know where Dr. Sokoloff lives ? " 

'' Yes ; at old Mother Yakimitch's." 

" That's right. And do you know where Brzobegounek's 
house is — -the Austrian, I mean — with the whiskers ? " 

"The man who makes the little black people ? " 

" Yes, yes, that's right, dear," said Ognianoff with a 
smile at this innocent satire on the poor photographer. 

" Do you think you could go and take a letter to them, 
darling ? " 



268 UNDER THE YOKE 

" Oh, yes, Boicho," answered the girl, joyfully. 

Ognianoff drew from the pocket of his tunic a pencil and 
a piece of paper, much crumpled. It was Rada's letter. 
The sight of it filled him with dismay. With a trembling 
hand he tore off the blank part, and, spreading it on a flat 
stone, wrote a few words on it, after which he folded it up. 

" Now, Marika, you're to take this letter to Dr. Sokoloff : 
if he's not at home, take it to the Austrian. Put it away 
carefully in your pocket. 

" Yes." 

" If they ask you where I am, you can tell them — but only 
those two, do you hear ? Say I'm in the empty mill, behind 
the HambarofI Mill." 

Marika glanced towards the northern side of the valley, 
where the solitary mill lay, half in ruins. 

Ognianoff had not put his name nor his hiding-place in 
the letter, fearing lest by some mischance the paper, instead 
of reaching its destination, should fall into dangerous 
hands. He was quite convinced of Marika's devotion, but 
dared not entrust her with a verbal message, lest in her sim- 
plicity she might make some slip, of which the conse- 
quences might be fatal. 

To impress still more deeply on her mind the importance 
of her errand, he added quietly : 

" Because if you lose the letter, dear, or tell any one else 
by mistake that you've seen me, or where I am, the Turks 
will come and kill me. Be careful, darling." 

At these words Marika's face assumed a grave and 
frightened look, and her hand involuntarily sought the 
place under her arm where she had inserted Boicho's letter 
under her dress. 

*' I'll go and tell uncle I'm going to fetch the bread." 

" That's right, Marika — mind you remember what I told 
you." 

Marika went into the mill. 

Boicho returned to his hiding-place behind a rock, and 
waited to see Marika start. 

He waited for a whole hour, with terrible impatience. 

At last he saw the girl picking her way barefoot across the 
stones in the path : he watched her disappear in the direc- 
tion of Bela Cherkva. 



MARIKA'S FAILURE 269 

CHAPTER VII : MARIKA'S FAILURE 

When she reached the meadow before the Monastery, 
Marika stopped, out of breath, and looked anxiously round ; 
but she saw that she was unobserved, and continued her 
journey hurriedly. AU the way to the town she did not 
meet with a single person ; the fields were deserted, as also 
the street which the orphan was about to enter appeared to 
be. Suddenly Marika stopped. She saw three Turks com- 
ing towards her from the other end of the street. Filled 
with terror at the sight of these men, she turned round with- 
out hesitating, and fled down into the rose-gardens, intend- 
ing to enter the town by the other street on its western side. 
This was going considerably out of her way, and increased 
the distance between her and Sokolofl's house. At last 
Marika reached the western side of the town. To the right 
stretched the great bare plain ; to the left was the town, 
with its narrow street, and the row of low shops on either 
side. The shops were completely deserted ; neither Turk 
nor Bulgarian was to be seen there. AU the shops, doors, 
and windows that had shutters were closed : this soHtude 
encouraged the poor girl, and she ran down the street. But 
she had hardly advanced ten paces when something made 
her turn back : she remained transfixed with surprise. Not 
far away on the plain a huge cloud of dust was rising, from 
which proceeded a confused clamour of heavy footsteps, 
trampling of horses, and loud human voices. Soon, 
through the dust, could be seen the origin of all this dis- 
turbance. It was the horde of Tossoun Bey, returning vic- 
torious and triumphant after three days' plunder from the 
ruins of Klissoura. Men on foot and horsemen advanced in 
inextricable confusion, loaded with arms and booty. Soon 
the throng surged like a wave into the street, which it com- 
pletely filled, and passed through it with wild clamour. It 
was only a part of the horde, consisting of a few hundred 
Bashi-bozouks, all natives of the neighbouring villages to 
the east of Bela Cherkva. They were now marching in 
triumph, with their banners displayed, to the sound of music 
and with such trophies as they could bring with them. The 
rest was stored in the endless line of waggons which came 
behind. For the sake of ease, the Bashi-bozouks had put 
on the most precious clothes plundered from unhappy 
Klissoura, so that the bloodthirsty array had in some 



270 UNDER THE YOKE 

respects a comic appearance — ^it resembled a carnival pro- 
cession, in Asiatic taste. Many had put on women's 
valuable fur jackets, fine shirts, and quilted satin vests, in 
spite of the heat. Some Bashi-bozouks had even decked 
themselves, doubtless in contempt, in rich ecclesiastical 
vestments stolen from the churches at Khssoura. Their 
leader, Tossoun Bey, wore a magnificent European dressing- 
gown of grey cashmere, lined with red cloth, with long 
hanging red tassels. Evidently Tossoun Bey was un- 
acquainted with the use of this garment, which he took to 
be some luxurious overcoat, most appropriate for his return 
to Bela Cherkva. 

It was a repulsive sight. 

But Marika hardly saw it. At the very moment that the 
horde came into sight she disappeared from the street and 
passed through others still more silent and deserted. At 
last she reached Sokolofi's door. She knocked : there was 
no reply. She knocked again and again. 

" Who's that knocking ? " asked the old housekeeper 
from inside. 

" It's me. Open the door, mother Yakimitch," was all 
the girl could say. 

" What do you want here ? " 

*' Dr. Sokoloff. Open the door — do ! " cried the girl 
tearfully. 

The old woman muttered something angrily, but opened 
the door. 

" What do you want ? He's not at home," she said 
curtly. 

" Where is he, mother? " 

" Tell me, and I'll tell you. They've been looking for 
him since yesterday, and there's not a sign of him. Be off 
with you." 

And the old woman slammed the door. 

Marika stood in dismay outside. 

She ran back. The photographer's door was close by : 
she knocked at it. 

" What do you want, little girl ? " asked a woman in rags, 
haggard, and sorrowful. 

*' The Austrian." 

" What do you want him f or ? " 

*' Let me in to see the Austrian ! " cried Marika, as she 
tried to force her way past the woman. 



MARIKA'S FAILURE 271 

" Are you mad, child ? Haven't they killed the Aus- 
trian ? " answered the woman wildly, pushing Marika into 
the street. 

These words terrified the poor child. She now began to 
think that Boicho would be killed too, that the Turks were 
after him, and that they would take the letter away from 
her, because some one had told them she had got a letter 
from Boicho. What could she do ? She looked round 
her, and noticed that the street was quite empty, and that 
there was no one there. She became frightened and began 
to cry. Just then some one stumbled against her from 
behind. She looked round : it was Kolcho. 

" What are you crying for, my dear ? " asked the blind 
lad, fixing his sightless eyes upon Marika, as if he sought 
to recognise her. 

If Marika had known Kolcho better, she would have 
transgressed Ognianofi's orders and told him the whole 
story : Kolcho would have replaced Sokoloff . But she 
was afraid of this strange man and fled down another 
street. 

" Stop, stop, Marika ! " cried Kolcho, who at that minute, 
through his wonderful faculty, recognised by her weeping 
that it was old Stoyan's daughter. He had knocked 
immediately after her at Sokoloff's door, to ask the old 
woman about the doctor : from her he had learnt that 
a little girl had just been to look for him. Some presenti- 
ment told him that the girl was Marika, and that if she was 
looking for the doctor it must be for some very serious 
reason, as indeed was shown by the fact of her crying 
because she had been unable to find him. Who could 
hav& sent her to Sokoloff at such a time as this ? Only 
some one who did not know what was going on — some 
stranger. Could it have been he ? Since the previous 
evening a rumour had been current that Boicho had not 
perished, but had escaped to the mountains, and was 
probably in hiding there now. Perhaps it was Boicho who 
had come down to the Monastery stream, where Marika 
lived at her uncle's mill, and had sent her to inform 
Sokoloff of his arrival. Yes, yes, this Marika was an instru- 
ment of Providence. The supposition strangely excited 
Kolcho. He cried, advancing in the direction the girl had 
taken : 

" Marika, Marika, come here, child." 



272 UNDER THE YOKE 

But there was no answer. I 

Kolcho groaned in despair. I 

By that time he had reached the market-place. 

This at least was not silent nor deserted : loud talking 
and the trampHng of horses' hoofs could be heard. 

It seemed like a procession. 

Every one was talking Turkish. What could this be ? 

Kolcho stopped, astounded, near the cafe, and listened to 
what was being said. 

He heard a loud voice inside, saying, in Bulgarian : 

" There, just think of it — it's shameful : to try and bum 
the town down over our heads ! It was touch-and-go they 
didn't kill every one of us, like dogs, and not leave one stone 
standing on another. Where are the brigands now, I should 
like to know : bring 'em here and I'll read out their sen- 
tences for 'em. Revolt, indeed ! Against whom ? Against 
the Sultan, their father and benefactor, who watches over 
us as the apple of his eye, to see that we come to no harm. 
So many hundred years we've been under the shadow of 
the Sultan's throne, our grandfathers have prospered, and 
our fathers, and we ourselves — ^aye, and our grandchildren'll 
be put to it to find anything better. Let's have a little 
common sense, bother you all ! Whoever isn't comfortable 
here can go to Moskovia. We're all right." 

Kolcho recognised Chorbaji Yordan's voice. 

" Long live His Majesty the Sultan ! " cried another. 

This time Kolcho recognised Fratio. 

These two expressed the panic which had overwhelmed 
the town. The former was hateful only, for he was sincere 
in what he said — ^he had spoken and thought thus even 
before the outbreak ; but the other was repulsive, for he 
was actuated only by cowardice. His cry met with no 
response, but he found it in the very silence which followed. 
In such times as the present, the Yordans were right and 
the Fratios honourable. Every outrage upon the fallen 
was permissible — every brutahty of the victor condoned. 
Vce victis. 

The April insurrection was less terrible in its massacres at 
Batak than in the baseness of its dowrfall. 

Kolcho sighed deeply. 

He turned back towards Mother Ghinka's house. 



THE MEADOW 273 

CHAPTER Vni : THE MEADOW 

That day, about noon, a family was to be seen sitting in a 
delightful meadow, under the shade of the green trees, just 
outside the town. At the southern end of the meadow rose 
the stone fence round a garden, the gate of which opened 
on to the meadow : to the north stretched the panorama of 
the Stara Planina, with its gaunt, spare peaks, steep slopes 
seamed by the ravines, and the picturesque and blooming 
plain below. 

The meadow and garden belonged to Chorbaji Yordan, 
whose family it was sitting there. With this exception, not 
a soul could be seen stirring outside the town ; for although 
since the capitulation things were quieter and some life 
appeared in the streets, no one ventured abroad either on 
business or simply to enjoy the beauties of nature. Only 
Yordan's family could hope to do so unmolested. 

For Yordanitsa had fallen seriously ill in consequence of 
her grief at Lalka's death, and had been confined to her bed 
for many days. The doctor had insisted on the necessity of 
a change of scene for the sufferer, and, as the streets were 
not quite safe, she had been conducted through backyards 
and gardens to Yordan's plantation in the suburbs, where 
she could breathe in and enjoy the pure fresh air. The 
change at once revived her. From the garden they had 
ventured out into the meadow, where two great buffaloes 
were grazing, also Yordan's property. 

A zaptie sitting some distance off protected the party 
from insult or annoyance. 

There were amongst them two who did not belong to the 
family : these were a stout and lusty peasant girl, and Rada, 

The peasant woman was Staika, Eall-the -Bear's bride, 
whom Ghinka had engaged to help in the house-work : she 
had also extended a hospitable welcome to Rada ; nor had 
this given rise to any objections on the part of Yordanitsa 
or any other member of Yordan's family. On the contrary, 
the sight of Rada, their lost Lalka's dearest friend, seemed 
to afford them a sweet but painful consolation, and their 
former contempt and hatred gave way to more humane 
feeHng towards the poor homeless girl. 

We have already seen that Staika and Rada, who had 
become friends at Klissoura, had both ahke suffered in the 
ruin of that town. Thanks to Staika, Ivan had been in time 



274 UNDER THE YOKE 

to save Rada. On the way, she had done her best to con- 
sole the weeping girl, and when they arrived, two days before 
at Bela Cherkva, refused to be separated from her. Simple, 
half wild as she was, she understood, nevertheless, Rada's 
painful position, and shared her woes. There had been 
some talk just before of Boicho, and Sister Hajji Rovoama 
had averred that he had been killed in the fight : this had 
made Staika look pitifully at Rada's face, which grew pale 
at the news ; and she conceived a violent hatred for the 
nun who spoke so calmly of Boicho's death. 

" One 'ud think she'd seen the teacher killed with her own 
eyes. Why should she be glad, the old owl ? " whispered 
Staika angrily to Rada. 

*' Hush, hush ! " Rada answered softly. 

Staika listened for a while to the conversation, and then 
whispered again to Rada : " Rada, the old cat's got 
whiskers. Why doesn't she shave them ? " 

Rada smiled involuntarily. " Hush, dear." 

It was the first time Staika had seen sister Hajji Rovoama: 
she did not know she was her mistress's aunt. To be 
revenged on her she had slily cut the string of the nun's 
rosary and stolen some of the amber beads ; and she was 
now watching with glee the discomfiture of the old woman 
as she looked for her missing property. At last Staika 
nudged Rada and burst out laughing. 

'' What are you laughing at, Staika ? " asked Ghinka. 

" Why, at the fuss the old crow's making over a couple of 
grains of maize." 

'* You mustn't say that, Sister Hajji Rovoama, dear,'* 
whispered Raja, correcting her. 

Fortunately, Staika's uncomplimentary expression passed 
unnoticed : just then every one turned to Stefchoff, who 
had come from the town. 

He at once began eagerly to describe the doings of the 
deputation in which he had taken part. This deputation, 
headed by Yordan Diamandieff, had been sent that day to 
meet Tossoun Bey, who was on his way to attack the city as 
having revolted, and to entreat him to spare it. After much 
trouble, the deputation had succeeded in saving Bela 
Cherkva from the fate which had befallen Klissoura, but 
upon three most onerous conditions : 1st, the town was to 
pay down on the spot one thousand liras * to Tossoun Bey as 
* A lira is about I8s. Qd. 



THE MEADOW 275 

a compensation to his band, thus baulked of their promised 
spoil ; 2ndly, all weapons, down to the very penknives, 
were to be handed over to him ; and 3rdly, all suspected 
persons were to be given up to the authorities. 

This complete capitulation, which was powerless to save 
Batak from Ahmed Aga of Tumrush, saved Bela Cherkva. 
Tossoun Bey entered only with a part of his forces, to take 
over the arms. Hence Chorbaji Yordan and in some 
measure Stefchoff were now looked upon as the saviours of 
the town. As he explained all these doings with pride, 
Stefchofif cast from time to time a spiteful glance at Rada, 
who did not even look towards him. But the presence of 
that hated man weighed on her like a heavy burden. The 
harsh tone of his voice affected her nerves ; every sound of 
it awoke a painful echo in her heart. She saw personified 
in him the fatal ruin which had befallen her dearest hopes, 
and he inspired her with nameless fear and aversion. My 
God, she thought, so many good people have been killed, 
and this monster lives and rejoices ! He's honoured and 
looked up to — why ? Because he's so bad and vile ? But 
suddenly she turned towards Stefchoff with a look of 
interest, because he was now talking of Boicho, and more 
gleefully than ever before when he had mentioned Boicho's 
name. 

" What ! do you mean to say the scoundrel's alive ? " 
asked Sister Hajji Rovoama, doubtfully. 

" Yes ; he's fled to the mountain," said Stefchoff ; " but 
whether he's still alive I can't tell. Perhaps the vultures 
have picked his bones by this time." 

Rada pressed her hand to her heart with a painful 
emotion. 

" I tell you the Count's alive — ^he's not dead," said Hajji 
Simeon. " He's been dead so often, and comes to life 
again every time. I don't believe it. It reminds me, when 
I was in Moldavia they all said the brigand Yankulesco 
was dead ; the newspapers wrote about him. Well, we all 
said ' God rest his soul,' when one day, as I was travelling 
near Tourgou Namtsou, whom should I meet but Yanku- 
lesco — curse him ! ' Good morning, Domnule Yankulesco,* 
says I : he just took my watch — ^as a keepsake, he said. 
What I mean is, he didn't kill me, as he might have done. 
I mean to say a brigand never dies." 

And Hajji Simeon winked in a friendly manner at Rada, 



276 UNDER THE YOKE 

as much as to say, *' Take my word for it, the Count's ahve." 

" Provided the ruffian doesn't come here and bum the 
place down, like Klissoura." 

" Come ? I wish he would come, that's all, and that 
confounded bear-trainer too. I should like to get hold of 
him and settle his business, like Master Kandoff and the 
others," said Stefchoff. 

" Ah, it's a pity, but somebody must be sacrificed to save 
thousands," said some one. 

" Of course. What do they come here for, the vaga- 
bonds ! " 

" What for ? Why, to hide themselves," answered 
Ghinka, eagerly. 

Stefchoff stared at her with astonishment. 

" Well, Ghinka, I suppose, according to you. Father 
Yordan's done wrong ? " 

" No — ^he's done well ; you've both done well, you and 
father ! My word ! one would think you were Jews or 
Turks, not Bulgarians ! Don't you ever think what made 
the poor fellows go out on the mountains to die ? " 
Ghinka 's face flamed, and her eyes flashed. 

" You're mad, girl, you're mad," said her sick mother. 

*' As for these friends of yours," sneered Stefchoff, "these 
patriots : to hear you talk, we ought to go out to meet them, 
to send the school children to sing hymns when they come, 
to open our doors to them and cook sweetmeats for them, 
like some people, who baked biscuit." 

" Yes, I know, I know," interrupted the enraged Ghinka : 
" betray them to the Turks, kill them, shoot them, drink 
their blood, like you did to those poor lads yesterday ! 
When I think of Kandofi's poor mother, how she shrieked 
and fainted in the middle of the road ! Ah ! Lalka, dar- 
ling ! My God— my God ! " 

And Ghinka sank down at the foot of a walnut-tree and 
sobbed aloud, with her handkerchief to her eyes. Her 
sudden outburst was caused by the thought of the insur- 
gents who had been shot the day before, but those present 
attributed it to Lalka 's death . Rada hastened to her side to 
comfort her. The mention of her daughter had also dis- 
turbed Mother Yordanitsa, who began to cry. 

Their grief drove Stefchoff wild : he guessed them to be 
crying over the insurgents. 

The zaptie, who understood something of what was being 



AN ALLY 277 

said, approached Stefchoff and Hajji Simeon, and said in a 
low voice : 

" Have you heard ? There's another Koumita from 
Klissoura come down the mountain to the Monastery 

'' What ! Who told you so ? " asked Stefchoff with a 
start. 

" The gipsy woman Arabia ; she saw him while she was 
gathering herbs." 

" When ? " 

" To-day, at noon." 

" Has she given notice about it ? '* 

" I don't know." 

" Oh, we nMst see to this at once," cried Stefchoff, 
snatching up his fez from the grass ; '* we were all but being 
put to fire and sword to-day, and here comes another bandit 
upon us." 

" That's the man, I'll be bound," said Hajji Simeon 
suddenly. 

" Who ? " asked Stefchoff. 

" The Count — didn't I say he was alive ? " 

" So much the better — there'll be more butchery." 

Hajji Simeon was now frightened at his own words, spoken 
without meaning any harm. He grew pale. 

" Kiriak, are you going ? " 

" Yes, of course." 

' ' What business is it of yours ? Let the poor fellow alone, ' ' 
said Hajji Simeon, in tones of entreaty : " we'll find some 
comer in the whole town where he can remain hidden. 
Every one likes the Count." 

" You're mad, Hajji," cried Stefchoff with a sudden flash 
of anger. " Bela Cherkva must be saved." 

And without bidding farewell to the company he hastened 
towards the town, continuing his whispered conversation 
with the zaptie, who accompanied him as far as the garden 
wall. 

Hajji Simeon stood as if petrified. 

CHAPTER IX : AN ALLY 

Stepchoff's sudden departure had scarcely been noticed by 
the family, who were all busy round Yordanitsa, trying to 
comfort the old lady. 



278 UNDER THE YOKE 

" Missus, you'd better be off into the garden. I see our 
Turks are beginning to come this way through the orchards," 
said the zaptie, who approached and took his rifle before 
joining Stefchoff, who was waiting for him. 

Mother Yordanitsa rose to go into the garden. Ghinka 
supported her under the arms as she w^alked, the others 
followed. Last of all came Rada, and Staika : Staika 
pressed her friend's hand warmly and said, " Rada, the 
teacher's alive, did you hear ? " But Rada did not answer, 
being seized by new terrors. For some presentiment told 
her that this fresh victim of the disaster of Klissoura, who 
had come down from the Balkan that day, and whom Stef- 
choff was eager to betray with a light heart, was no stranger 
to her — ^that it was he himself ; and her heart throbbed 
with inexpressible dismay. 

" Why, look at that little girl running alone barefoot," 
cried Staika, pointing to a little girl who was darting across 
the meadow. 

It was Marika. The child was returning disconsolate, 
after trying vainly for several hours to find out where Dr. 
Sokoloff was. With delight she saw Rada, the only friend 
of Boicho's whom she knew, and who could assist her. 
Though she had not forgotten Boicho's instructions, Marika 
felt that Rada would not be dangerous, that Boicho had 
most likely forgotten to say she might tell Rada, and that 
there was no harm in trusting to her. 

Rada rose to meet her. 

" Come here, Marika. What is it, dear ? " 

The little girl stopped, looked round her timidly, and 
asked : 

" Rada, dear, do you know where the doctor is ? " 

" Sokoloff, dear ? No, I don't know. Is anybody ill ? " 

Marika shook her head. 

" Who sent you for the doctor, then, dear ? " 

" Rada, dear ; it was — Boi " 

Marika in her terror did not venture to complete the name. 

But Rada understood. She grew pale, and tears started 
to her eyes. At the same moment Stefchoff returned, and 
fixed his piercing eyes on Marika. He had noticed her, 
and come back for that reason. 

" What have you got in your hand, little girl ? " he asked. 

Marika trembled. She started back guiltily, and hid her 
hand in her dress. 



AN ALLY 279 

" Give me the paper ; I want to see it," he said, advanc- 
ing towards her. 

The girl shrieked wildly, and fifed across the meadow 
towards the rose-gardens. 

A dark suspicion formed in Stefchoff 's mind. He guessed 
that there was some important secret in the letter the terri- 
fied child was trying to conceal : he had also recognised old 
Stoyan's orphan. Why had she come to Rada, and who 
could have sent her with a letter at such a moment ? Could 
it be from Ognianofi, and was he the rebel who had come 
down from the Balkan ? The thought made his face beam 
with evil joy, and he hastened after Marika. 

Rada, sighing deeply, followed Marika, who, seeing the 
buffalo drover in the way, turned back and fled in the 
opposite direction : this would throw her right into 
Stefchoff's arms, who was running towards her. 

Marika saw this new danger and shrieked aloud, as if to 
implore assistance against her cruel pursuer. 

Staika was watching this scene with much surprise. She 
could not understand why Stefchoff was so anxious to 
secure the paper, but from Rada's face she saw that he 
must at any cost be prevented from getting hold of it. The 
moment she understood this she ran like a hare across the 
meadow, and seizing Stefchoff by the coat-tails, held him 
firmly, so as to give the child time to escape. 

Stefchoff turned round and saw the peasant-woman. 
Her boldness surpassed all belief. 

" Guv'ner, what are you chasing the girl for ? " asked 
Staika angrily, holding him. 

'' Let me go, you pig," shrieked Stefchoff in a fury, strug- 
gling to get free. " Ah ! I see it all ; she's sent you, you 
infernal village hussy. Kosta, Kosta, confound you, catch 
hold of h^* ! " he cried to Yordan's drover, who had been 
startled by Marika's screams. He cut off her fiight. The 
poor girl stopped in terror when she saw this fresh pursuer, 
turned back like a frightened fawn, and hid herself between 
the buffaloes, as if to beg for protection against her fellow 
human creatures. 

Staika, whose wild instincts had been roused, tried to 
throw herself upon Stefchoff and the drover at the same 
time ; they stood before her Hke hens facing an eagle, but a 
despairing ^sign from Rada held her back. 

The amazed peasant girl did not dare to go on. She 



280 UNDER THE YOKE 

sorrowfully watched the poor child, half dead, as she fell 
fainting on the grass by the buffaloes. Ever since that 
terrible night in the mill Marika was subject to hysterical 
fits whenever she was frightened. One of the buffaloes, 
who was standing upright, bent his great head over the 
motionless girl, sniffed gently and compassionately at her 
face, and raised his damp nose again, looking round quietly 
and unconcernedly out of his wide blue eyes. 

Stef choff hastily searched Marika's dress, for he had seen 
the child put the letter away there as she fled. But he 
could not find it. They hunted all over the field, but the 
paper had vanished, as if it had sunk into the ground. 

Stef choff turned round angrily. 

" I wonder if he's swallowed it," he said, looking savagely 
at the buffalo. 

GoHo, as if he understood that he was suspected of theft, 
opened his huge mouth wide ; only a few half-munched 
blades of grass were to be seen in his capacious jaws. 

Stef choff was bewildered . He could not understand what 
had become of the letter. 

*' No doubt the little devil has dropped it somewhere in 
the field," he said, and he and Kosta began to search 
again. 

Marika soon came to herself. Her first impulse was to 
feel in her pocket ; she began to cry when she found nothing 
there. The poor child rose and went away sobbing. 

Stef choff and the drover searched for a long time. At 
last Stef choff went off hurriedly to the town. He had 
probably found the letter. As he passed by Rada he 
muttered with a savage look : " We'll see his head stuck on 
a pole to-day." 

Rada, overcome with dismay, was unable to move. 
Staika stood bolt upright by the buffaloes. ,She shared 
Rada's fears, but could not understand why she had not 
been allowed to help Marika to escape. She still looked 
fiercely in the direction in which Stefchoff had disappeared, 
while she unconsciously stroked Golio's shaggy neck. 

Golio sniffed at the hand of this stranger who was caress- 
ing him, and turned away. 

" Here's the letter, Rada," she cried, picking up a muddy 
scrap of paper which had been concealed under the beast's 
hoof. Golio had indeed placed his foot upon it while 
sniffing over the fainting Marika. 



LOVE AND HEROISM 281 

Rada seized the letter, unfolded it with a trembling hand, 
and glanced at it hurriedly. 

" From Boicho ! " she cried. 

She pressed her hand to her heart, overcome with emotion. 

The letter consisted of two lines only : 

" I've come down, the Balkan. Bring or send me clothes 
and news at once." 

There was no signature to the letter. 

Rada read it over again and again : she noticed with 
emotion that these words were written on the blank portion 
of the very letter she had sent by Eall-the-Bear at that 
frightful moment. Her signature " Rada," in pencil, was 
still on the other side. Her tears flowed afresh. 

" What does it say in the letter, Rada ? " asked Staika. 

" He's alive — alive, dear," exclaimed Rada with a sigh. 

Staika's broad face grinned all over with joy. 

" Teacher's alive, is he, Rada ? Didn't I tell you the old 
cat knew nothing about it, for all her talk about the 
teacher ? " 

" He's alive, dear, he's alive ; tell Ghinka I'm not well, 
and that I've gone home. Don't say a word about the 
letter ! " 

And she went towards the orchards. 



CHAPTER X : LOVE AND HEROISM 
What Rada required above all was time to coUect her 
thoughts, and to take a rapid decision. She crouched be- 
hind some neighbouring bushes, which concealed her from 
view, and began to think earnestly what she should do. 
Things were most critical. Boicho's life hung on a single 
hair, and he suspected nothing, for it could only have been 
Boicho whom the gipsy had seen ; yes, yes, it must have 
been he. He must at once be informed of the danger, and 
be supplied with the means of escape. For her, for a girl, 
this was no easy task : the fields were now deserted except 
by occasional Bashi-bozouks prowling round in search of 
plunder. She shuddered at the thought that she might 
encounter some of these semi-savages : but Boicho's life was 
at stake, and she must risk everything. Her love would 
brave all the cruelty of fate or of man. Yes, she must start 
at once. But he asked for clothes, ordinary clothes of 
course, the clothes of some peaceful citizen, so as to avoid 



282 UNDER THE YOKE 

arousing suspicion. ProiDerly disguised, he might even 
enter Bela Cherkva. This was a great difficult}^ Where 
could she find such clothes ? Who would incur the evident 
danger of lending his ? Where could she search for clothes 
when every moment was precious ! Then another thought 
struck her, which ought to have occurred to her from the 
first : where was Ognianoff hidden ? The letter did not 
say. Probably out of precaution he had enjoined Marika 
to reveal the secret only verbally to Sokoloff. And now 
Marika was gone ! Oh ! why had she not thought of asking 
her just before where Boicho was ? Thank God, at least 
she knew he was in the valley of the Monastery ; she had 
heard the zaptie say so. The valley of the Monastery was 
immense, but she would find Boicho if she had to search 
every inch of it. But, oh dear ! his enemies would not lose 
all that time ; they knew exactly where he was waiting for 
the reply to his letter. But she would find him ; she would 
get there before them, long before, for her feet would be 
winged. If she could only have found the clothes, and they 
were the most necessary of all ! My God ! and time was 
going by so fast, and there was no one to advise her. 

All these thoughts presented themselves to her in a 
moment with lightning rapidity. She resolved to leave her 
hiding-place, and hasten towards the valley of the Monas- 
tery. But first of all she looked carefully through the 
bushes towards the garden. By the gate she saw a man 
standing in a tall fez, dressed in a suit of grey tweed. She 
took him at first for Stefchoff . But no ; this was a shorter 
man, and quite different in appearance. She recognised 
blind Kolcho. Her heart quivered with joy, although 
Kolcho, being blind, could be but of little service to her. 
But at least she would discuss the matter with him. God 
alone could have sent him there. 

But she saw with dismay that Kolcho was already passing 
through the gateway into the garden. 

She called aloud : 

" Kolcho ! Kolcho ! stop ! " and darted towards him. 

Kolcho heard her cry, and stopped. 

In a moment Rada was at his side. 

" Kolcho ! " 

** Rada ! I was looking for you," said the blind lad. 

And drawing near to her, he whispered ; 

*' Boicho's alive 1 '' 



LOVE AND HEROISM 28^ 

" Yes, yes ; I know he is, Kolcho," said Rada, panting. 

" He's in the mountain," added Kolcho. 

" No, Kolcho ; he's come down into the Monastery valley." 

Kolcho started. 

" What do you mean, Rada ? " 

" He's there, he's there now, Kolcho ; I've just had a 
letter from him. He wants clothes, Kolcho, he must have 
clothes. They've brought word to the Turks ; the gipsies 
saw him. But I'll fly to him and warn him. He'll escape. 
They won't catch him ; but wherever he goes they'll know 
he belongs to the rebels, because of his clothes. My 
God ! my God ! and there's no time." 

While Rada sobbed out her broken ejaculations, Kolcho 
was thinking : he had hit upon a plan. 

" There's clothes to be had, Rada," said he. 

" Oh, Kolcho, tell me where. Where can we find them ? " 

" Close by, at a friend's house." 

" Quick, quick, dear ! " 

' ' Wait here haK a minute . " 

And Kolcho hurried away. 

Rada waited impatiently hidden among the bushes. Not 
more than a minute or two passed, but they seemed to her 
hours. Moreover, she was trembling lest some one should 
come out of the gardens and find her there alone and in 
that state of excitement. 

She groaned aloud. 

But at that moment a little girl came towards her carrying 
a bundle. 

The blind lad had placed in it a fez, a long coat and a 
pair of trousers of grey tweed. He had been wearing them 
a moment before. His tender solicitude had also thought 
of two other things which Rada in her confusion had for- 
gotten : in the pockets he had put a loaf of bread and a 
hundred piastres. 

But Rada did not even look at the bundle : she took it 
from the little girl and hastily went northwards, through the 
orchard. 

" My God, my God ! " she thought to herself bitterly, " he 
doesn't want to see me any more ! What have I done to 
him ? And I love him so." 

As it has already been stated, the fields were deserted, 
not a single Bulgarian dared to venture outside the town : 
only Bashi-bozouks were occasionally to be seen lurking 



284 UNDER THE YOKE 

there ; and for a lonely girl the danger was still greater and 
more terrible. 

But Rada did not even think about it. 

Love has only one thought — self-sacrifice. 

CHAPTER XI : THE BASHI-BOZOUK 

Ognianoff, hidden in the deserted mill, was awaiting the 
appearance of some friend, or at least of Marika. 

The dilapidated mill, which was crumbling in ruin, stood 
solitary at the topmost end of the stream, not far from the 
thundering waterfall : beyond it there was no other 
building. 

In its walls were great chasms, where the doors and 
windows had formerly been, and a part of the roof had been 
carried away by the wind. 

The breaches in the walls served OgnianofE as portholes 
through which he could watch the path which followed the 
stream up to the very waterfall, where it crossed to the 
other side and wound up the slope to the mountain. 

Ognianoff was much disturbed. The terrible feeling of un- 
certainty grew stronger every minute : his anxiety and dis- 
may were increasing. He could not understand the reason 
of this delay. But his worst fear was lest Marika should not 
have succeeded in finding either the doctor or Brzobe- 
gounek, who were perhaps obliged to remain in hiding. 
He never for a moment suspected the terrible danger which 
was threatening him. He could not guess that his presence 
there was now known to friends and foes alike, and that his 
fate depended upon the solution of the question who should 
arrive first, the former or the latter. 

He saw some one coming up the path, to his dismay. It 
was a Turk, tall and powerfully-built, with a green turban 
round his fez ; a long yataghan gleamed in his belt ; he was 
dressed in a blue jacket and breeches, and carried a bundle 
on his back. It was probably one of the Turks of whom 
Marika had spoken, a Bashi-bozouk. 

But what could he be doing there ? 

Ognianoff drew his revcftver and watched the stranger 
carefully. 

The Bashi-bozouk continued up the path, walking with 
very long strides. 

He gradually approached the deserted mill, but at 



THE BASHI-BOZOUK 285 

fifty paces from it he turned off and passed to the other 
side. 

Ognianoff was astounded ; but he was obHged to remain 
silent and motionless. He could only wait and look on. 

The Turk kept on his way up. He crossed the stream on 
the stepping-stones, passed through the tall spreading weeds 
at the foot of the cliff, and stopped. Ognianoff noticed that 
he stopped at the very place where the path up the 
mountain began. He grew pale. This path was the only 
one by which he could escape to the Balkan in case of need. 
The steep and jagged rocks were quite inaccessible else- 
where. Could this man have come to cut off his escape ? 
was he followed by others ? 

Just then the Turk took off his turban, one end of which 
had become unrolled . The whole of the Bashi-bozouk's face 
and head were thus discovered to Ognianoff 's gaze. 

He now saw a young and handsome face with a broad 
white forehead, over which the thick fair hair fell in curls. 

Ognianoff involuntarily uttered a cry of surprise — then, 
standing at the empty- window frame, he put two fingers to 
his mouth and whistled. 

The shrill sound was echoed by the rocks. 

The Bashi-bozouk fixed his eyes on the mill from whence 
the sound came ; he saw Ognianoff beckoning significantly, 
and hastened forward. It was Sokoloff. 

The two friends embraced each other warmly. 

*' What, Boicho, Boicho ! you're alive, brother ? what 
are you doing here ? " cried Sokoloff moved to tears. 

" And you, doctor, in this get up ? " 

" What are you doing here ? when did you come ? " 

" Last night — what kept you so long ? " 

" Kept me ? " asked Sokoloff with surprise. 

" Yes — couldn't Marika find you at first ? " 

" Marika ! who's she ? " 

" What— didn't she find you ? " cried Ognianoff. " I 
sent her to you with a letter this morning." 

*' She didn't find me — nor any one else either — I was in 
hiding," answered Sokolo^ff. 

Ognianoff looked at him with surprise. 

" What for ? where are you going ? " 

" I ? I'm flying." 

*' Flying, doctor ? " 

" Yes — can't you see by my clothes ? " • 



286 UNDER THE YOKE 

" And when did you leave Bela Cherkva ? " 

" I managed to get out last night. I've been hiding all 
day in the Hambaroff mill." 

" Fancy ! we've been close together all day without know- 
ing it. How strange ! But what can have become of 
Marika ? " said Ognianoff, who was again becoming 
anxious ; " and where are you going now ? " 

" To the mountain. I've been waiting till now for my 
passport and some money. But now I won't leave you — 
we'll live or die together. Ah ! Boicho, Boicho, what 
terrible misfortunes have come upon our country ; who'd 
have thought it, brother ? " 

" Sit down, sit down, and let's talk." 

CHAPTER XII : THE HISTORY OF AN 
UNREVOLTED CITY 

Crouching together in a comer, the two friends related to 
each other respectively what had happened at Klissoura and 
at Bela Cherkva during the last nine days. From Sokoloff's 
words, or more properly report, everything now became 
clear to Ognianoff. Bela Cherkva had in truth not risen 
immediately after KHssoura. It had not risen hke so many 
other towns and villages as well or better prepared for the 
revolt — everything had been lost through the premature 
outburst. At the first news of the movement at Klissoura, 
the committee had spHt up into two parties — the first 
anxious to avoid an attack being made on the town, against 
which they would, however, defend themselves, but deter- 
mined to rise only in case reinforcements were sent to them 
from outside ; the second of opinion that the standard of 
revolt should be raised at once, come what might. But the 
majority of the townspeople decided to capitulate. The 
extreme members of the committee, who wished for im- 
mediate action, that is to say, the doctor, Popoloff, and 
Bezporteff, were decoyed into Pope Stavri's outhouse and 
locked up there, and a deputation, headed by Chorbaji 
Yordan, was sent to K. to express submissive and loyal 
sentiments on behalf of Bela Cherkva, and to ask for a 
garrison to protect them. 

The Government, somewhat dismayed at the revolt, 
joyfully accepted this offer and sent fifty Bashi-bozouks to 
Bela Cherkva to collect all the arms in the city and defend 



THE HISTORY OF AN UNREVOLTED CITY 287 

it against attack. Soon a whole heap of guns, pistols and 
daggers were piled up in the courtyard of the Konak. 
This lightning conductor — the capitulation — ^saved Bela 
Cherkva. Only one victim was sacrificed — Marko Ivanoff, 
who was carried off to Philippopolis loaded with chains 
on account of his cherry-tree. 

Five days later, a banner appeared on the summit of the 
Balkans ; this gave rise to various conjectures, explanations 
and rumours, and fresh hopes were aroused. There was 
great excitement : it was said that several thousand in- 
surgents were marching from the Balkan to the rescue of 
Bela Cherkva, headed by Russian and Servian officers. 
No one knew positively from whence this unexpected 
succour was coming : it seemed to be falling from the sky, 
Kableshkoff had so often spoken of a mysterious army ready 
to appear at the appointed time, that the most sceptical 
began to believe. Every one looked hopefully at the 
banner on the summit of the Balkan. Some even averred 
that they could see men with guns on their shoulders on 
the mountain ridge — they took the bushes for an army. 
Others whose eyesight was still sharper could distinguish 
Russians among them by their great shaggy kalpaks. 
Then Pope Stavri came and unlocked his outhouse, and 
said to the captives : 

" It's a sin to keep you under lock and key any longer, 
children ; Micho was right ! Come and see what there is 
on the mountain." 

The three prisoners rushed from the door. Half an hour 
later they had taken possession of the Konak, Bey, arms, 
garrison and all. The whole city was in ecstasy. Bela 
Cherkva had revolted. But almost immediately terrible 
news came, which struck dismay into the hearts of all. A 
cattle drover had come down with all speed from the moun- 
tain, and brought word that there was no one at all on the 
Balkan. And Tossoun Bey had already started for Bela 
Cherkva, to level it to the ground. Meanwhile the panic 
was doubled by the news of the fall of Klissoura, brought 
by three fugitives, who had come down from the mountain 
and taken refuge at the school in the upper part of the 
town. These were Kandoff, who was wounded in the arm, 
and two others from Klissoura. The old housekeeper took 
them in and concealed them in the rafters of the school 
house. She had also provided them with bread, for they 



288 UNDER THE YOKE 

had for two days eaten nothing but herbs ; and at their 
request given notice of their arrival to Brzobegounek, who 
had brought them clothes, fezzes, and tobacco. They had 
not finished their first cigarette when through the chinks in 
the roof they saw that the school was surrounded on all 
sides by Turks. Brzobegounek happened to be still in the 
rafters. There was no hope of escape. The Turks began 
to fire at the roof from outside, through the windows. The 
two men from Klissoura, being wounded, fell down and gave 
themselves up. They were cut to pieces on the spot. 
Brzobegounek managed to fire his revolver twice, and 
wounded a Turk, but fell at once pierced by a dozen bullets. 
He was also despatched. Kandoff alone remained. Every 
gun was levelled at the spot where he was expected to 
appear. But he did not show himself. Suddenly the 
rafters, which were rotten, gave way, and Kandoff fell to 
the ground. He rose to his feet, folded his arms, and cried : 
" Fire, I'm ready for you ! " 

The Turks thought he was the commander and had 
surrendered, as he spoke in Bulgarian and they had not 
understood him. They waited. 

" Fire, you savages, other Bulgarians will still remain ! " 
he cried again. This time they understood what he meant. 
In reply thirty guns were fired at once, but not a single 
bullet seemed to have touched him. He rushed down the 
steps and made for the church through the courtyard. 
Again they fired without effect. He had reached the church 
door, when two bullets struck him and he fell in the church 
itself. They despatched him with their yatagans. From 
there they hastened in search of the doctor. Several citizens 
joined the Bashi-bozouks. Dead or alive, he must be 
found, to avert Tossoun Bey's wrath from the city : the 
doctor must be sacrificed to save Bela Cherkva . In the dark 
the terrified landlord of the house where he was hidden 
turned him out. The band of pursuers caught sight of him 
in the street and followed in his track, but he managed to get 
a start of them. As he fled along the long Moukliss street 
he tried the doors which he passed in the hope of being 
able to slip into one of them ; but every door was firmly 
barred, and he continued his flight. When he reached the 
market-place it seemed to him that there were now two 
bands pursuing him, for he saw a dozen men ahead of him 
barring the road. He turned to the left and flew down a 



THE HISTORY OF AN UNREVOLTED CITY 289 

side street : his pursuers lost sight of him and he was able to 
stop for a few seconds to rest himself. But the danger 
was as great as ever. The band would not be long before 
searching that street also, and at best there was but little 
chance of his escaping their bullets, thanks to the clearness 
of the night. 

To try to get out of the town was hopeless. Every outlet 
was closely guarded by sentinels. There was only one hope 
of safety — to take refuge in the house of some friend. For- 
tunately he remembered that Pope Dimcho's house was close 
by. He hastened to it and knocked at the door : it was 
opened by Pope Dimcho himseK, a member of the com- 
mittee. 

" Pope, hide me ! " said the doctor. 

" Impossible, impossible, doctor ! You'll be seen coming 
in : it'll only ruin me as well," whispered the pope, as he 
gently pushed him from the door. In truth, Sokoloff could 
hear the patrol advancing in the street opposite. He fled 
wildly back, and turned into a bUnd alley, where one of his 
relations lived. He knocked at the door, and implored to 
be admitted. 

Necho, his relative, who let him into the hall, at once saw 
the gravity of the situation. 

" Are you mad, doctor ? Do you want to bum my house 
down over my head ? You know I've got a wife and 
children." And with these words he opened the door and 
led him out. The doctor hastened out of the alley into the 
Petkanoff street. Fate brought him face to face with his 
pursuers. 

" If you don't stop we'll fire ! Stop, doctor ! " cried one 
of the constables to him from behind. In truth Sokoloff 
did stop, but not, however, where the zealous Bulgarian 
constable ordered him to. He knocked at Saratoff's door — 
he was his family doctor and one of his best friends, and 
resolved to try his luck there also. 

** Who's that knocking ? " asked Sara toff . 

The doctor answered. 

But Saratoff's only reply was to bolt the door more 
carefully, and not another sound was heard from inside. 



290 UNDER THE YOKE 

CHAPTER XIII : THE HISTORY CONTINUED 

*' What a disgrace ! My God ! '' groaned Ognianoff, much 
distressed. 

" I tell you there's a panic in the town, brother ; nothing 
but cowardice and treachery on every side. It's no longer 
the same Bela Cherkva," said Sokoloff gloomily. 
Ognianoff drew a deep sigh. 

" Cowardice and treachery, you say ? They're the 
natural offspring of our ill-fated revolution. They follow 
behind it, as wolves and crows do the battle army. And 
who put the flag on the top of the mountain ? " 

" I don't know." 

" Who do you think did ? " 

" The Turks, they say." 

Ognianoff looked at him with surprise. 

" Yes, the Turks," continued the doctor, " because it 
was seen on the previous day, when Tossoun Bey left 
Klissoura to fall on Bela Cherkva with the intention of 
destroying it. He was heard threatening to do so before 
he left Klissoura : he was only looking out for some 
pretext. No doubt it was for the same reason that they 
spread reports of the great army that was coming to relieve 
us, instead of which we got Tossoun." 

" Then he's at Bela Cherkva to-day ? " 

" Yes." 

" No doubt frightful scenes are going on there ! " cried 
Ognianoff excitedly. 

" Well, more shameful than frightful," repHed the doctor ; 
" the man I sent to the town to-day brought back word that 
Tossoun Bey had spared Bela Cherkva because they sent 
a deputation to receive him in state. He saw them piling 
up a whole heap of arms in the courtyard of the Konak, 
brought in by the townspeople themselves — the cherry-tree 
cannon was there too. Ah ! poor Marko ! I'm sorry for 
him most of all ! " 

Ognianoff sighed. 

" Yes, poor Marko ! that's the worst of all. He was the 
victim of some loathsome treachery — so was Kandoff," 
added Sokoloff. 

" Yes. Who betrayed Kandoff and his comrades ? " 
asked Ognianoff, while deep wrinkles formed on his brow. 

" I forgot to tell you — ^it was Yordan Diamandieff ; the 



THE HISTORY CONTINUED 291 

stupid old woman went and told the pope secretly, and the 
pope told Yordan. He stood there himself, urging on the 
bashi-bozouks — ' Fire, what are you waiting for ? We 
won't have brigands and traitors in our city.' " 

*' My God, my God ! Poor Kandoff ! I saw him fighting 
at the fort at Klissoura like a hero, and like a hero he fell ! 
What a frightful shock it was when I saw his corpse last 
night ! But how did you get away, after all ? " 

" I managed to get taken into a house at last. By this 
time I expect they've got the hue-and-cry out against me 
at Bela Cherkva. Let them catch me if they can ! " 

" What are your intentions now, doctor ? where are you 
going ? " 

" To Roumania, of course." 

" Yes, I'd thought of going there too, but the flag 
made me come down from the mountain." 

" As it's made me go towards it. But you can't go in 
that cloak, and you've got no hat ! " 

" That's why I sent Marika to you with a letter asking 
you to bring me things to go in. It's strange she should be 
so long." 

" That doesn't matter," said the doctor. " As soon as 
it's dark we can go to the Hambaroff mill, and old Lilko will 
give us everything we want. Fortunately, I happen to 
have an old passport ; that'll do for you. And there's food 
in the bundle." 

" That's splendid. But I didn't come here to escape 
again. I came in the hope of finding a rebellion." 

" Well, it's missed fire," said the doctor, bitterly. *' All 
we could do was to get into this mess." 

" Haven't you any news from elsewhere ? " 

'' Only vague rumours : there's the same tale on all 
sides. The revolt didn't spread, and ended in disaster. 
You know more about it than I do." 

" Yes ; from this mountain I've seen twenty villages 
blazing at the same time," said Ognianoff. 

" Ah, brother, the nation wasn't ripe for this kind of thing. 
We made a terrible mistake," said the doctor ; *' and 
Bulgaria's paying dearly for it now — ^so many victims, and 
all in vain ! " 

'* Mistake ? of course we were mistaken. But the 
revolution and the victims were bound to be. I could 
even have wished they were more numerous and more 



292 UNDER THE YOKE 

terrible. We can't destroy Turkey by force of arms, but 
we can gain the sjrmpathies of the world, at least, by our 
frightful sufferings, by our martyrdom, by the rivers of 
blood that are now flowing in Bulgaria. It's a sign of our 
existence, at least. No one troubles about the dead — only 
the living have a right to life. If the Governments of 
Europe don't take action on our behaK, they don't deserve 
to be called Christian and civilised. It's all the same — if 
nothing had happened we should have had nothing to regret. 
We've carried out a human obligation ; we tried to purchase 
our liberty with our blood — we failed. It's matter for 
regret, but there's nothing to be ashamed of. The shame, 
the crime, will be for us if we remain with our arms 
folded — ^if we trample on our faUen idol — if we forget the 
blood and the flames that cover Bulgaria to-day ! " 

" Ognianoff," said the doctor after a short pause, " it 
seems to me that there's no one who thinks so except us 
two : the whole of Bulgaria is cursing us as the authors of 
her misfortunes. Or, Usten — everybody thinks Stefchoff 
the real liberator." 



CHAPTER XIV : A SERIOUS CONVERSATION 
This was the first time Stefchoff's name had been men- 
tioned. Ognianoff frowned. 

" Do you mean to say that contemptible creature's still 
alive ? " 

" Contemptible creature ? Stefchoff's the wisest, the 
proudest, most respected man in the town now," said the 
doctor. " He and Yordan are triumphant — ^he passes as 
the saviour of the city, while they'd shoot us down like 
dogs if they saw us." 

*' Never mind, he's a base and cowardly creature. How 
unhappy poor Lalka must be." 

" What ! don't you know ? Lalka's dead." 

" Dead ? you don't say so ! " 

" She died on the 18th of April," muttered the doctor ! 

'* How much sorrow in such a short time ! He must 
have killed her, the scoundrel ! " cried Ognianoff. 

*' Yes, he killed* her — a few months with him were 
enough." 

Ognianoff, much moved, seized him by the hand. 



I 



A SERIOUS CONVERSATION 293 

" Ah ! brother, we're both equally unhappy." 

The doctor looked at him inquiringly. 

" Lalka, the being you loved is now in the grave," added 
Boicho, sorrowfully ; " and the other being I loved is in 
the grave, lost to me for ever." 

" No, your Rada's alive, she's at Bela Cherkva ! " cried 
the doctor, eagerly. 

" Alive ? yes, she's alive — but dead to me." 

The doctor looked at him with surprise. 

" Yes, dead to me for ever," repeated Boicho, gloomily. 
" Poor Kandoff ! God rest his soul ! Why did I survive 
him ? " 

The doctor's astonishment was increasing. 

" Boicho, do you mean to say you quarrelled with Kandoff 
at Klissoura ? " 

'' Yes, to the death." 

'' About Rada?" 

Ognianoff frowned. " Don't let's talk about that," he 
said. 

" Are you mad, Boicho ? To suspect Rada ? The 
thing's absurd ! " 

" Absurd ? I thought her innocence itself, brother — and 
what was the end of it ? " groaned Ognianoff. " I believed 
in her. I loved her so ardently. My country seemed dearer 
to me then, my confidence in myself greater, my courage 
unbounded ! And what awakening ! Just fancy. Well, 
I need only tell you that I fought at Klissoura, not with the 
hope of repulsing the enemy, but to meet death in the field. 
Don't talk about it ! " and Ognianoff bent his head to the 
ground. 

" You're deceived. Rada loved you faithfully, and still 
loves you ; but she's very unhappy, and unjustly accused — 
by you first of all," said the doctor with displeasure. 

Ognianoff threw a reproving glance at him. 

" Doctor, for the sake of poor Kandoff 's memory, don't 
talk any more about this sad business." 

" It's precisely Kandoff 's memory that I wish to clear 
from your suspicion. Don't imagine that he acted treacher- 
ously. True, he fell in love with Rada. As you know, he 
was passionate, and easily carried away. His inexplicable 
infatuation made him give up society, the committee, and 
everything — but all this had no effect on Rada's feelings, 
and he never insulted her with any improper proposal. She 



294 UNDER THE YOKE 

never told you of it from feelings of modesty, but she often 
complained to Lalka of Kandoff's pla tonic attention. Ah ! 
now I think of it, here's the letter he wrote her on the 19th 
of April, the day he followed her to Klissoura. Netkovitch 
gave it to me. Read it." 

And Sokoloff drew Kandoff's letter from his pocket-book, 
and gave it to Ognianoff . 

Boicho glanced hurriedly over it. His eyes filled with 
tears. An expression of joy at once lighted up his face. 

" Thanks, Sokoloff, your words have taken a terrible load 
ojff my heart. This is not the language of a favoured lover ; 
it's the despairing confession of one who knows he has no 
hope. How could I ever have suspected her ? Thanks, 
thanks, you have restored me to my senses ; you've given 
me new life." 

" Poor Rada, how happy she'd be if she knew. I wasn't 
able to see her, but I heard she was in despair for you, of 
course, since, like every one else, she thought you dead. 
Write her a line or two before we go, to comfort her, poor 
thing." 

*' How do you mean write to her ? " 

" Why, humanity demands it." 

" No, humanity demands not that I should write to her, 
but that I should go to her and ask pardon of her on my 
knees. I've been cruel to Rada to the degree of cowardice," 
cried Ognianoff. 

" Yes, I'd have advised the same, only now it's im- 
possible." 

'' Impossible or not, I'm going," said Ognianoff resolutely. 

*' What, you'll go to Bela Cherkva ? " cried the doctor, 
astounded. " Oh ! it's absolute madness. I tell you the 
town's ablaze. Yordan and Stefchoff are saviours there now. 
You're only exposing yourself to certain destruction ! " 

" Doctor, you ought to know that I care little for my life 
when my honour's at stake. Tossoun's entire army couldn't 
keep me back. I must beg pardon of my suffering Rada 
for my cruel conduct, which led her to the desperate 
resolution of putting an end to her life in the ruins of 
Klissoura . " m M^ If ^ 

And in two words Ognianoff described the incident. 

*' Then I won't restrain you, brother," said the doctor, 
with emotion. 

Ognianoff thought for a moment and added quietly : 



THE MEETING 295 

" Besides — that's not all : Rada's mine ; I plighted my 
faith to her before I left her here for the last time. I plighted 
my faith to her before God, and instead of a ring we ex- 
changed solemn vows. I can't leave her, you see, and if I 
should reach Roumania safely I should send for her to share 
the poverty, want, and sufferings which make up the life of 
an emigrant. Oh ! how gladly she would come to share my 
lot, as she shared it here. She's a heroine in her love, 
doctor, and I wouldn't give up her heart for the whole 
world." 

The doctor's emotion was visible on his face. 

" As soon as it's dark I'll be off, and this very night I'll be 
back again, safe and sound, I promise you. Now I don't 
want to die, doctor, for Rada still lives for me, and Bulgaria 
is not yet freed ! " 

CHAPTER XV ; THE MEETING 

The doctor was peering through a hole in the wall. 

*' There's some one coming," he said ; "it must be 
Marika." 

Ognianoff turned and glanced down the vaUey. 

" No, it's not Marika ; she's not so tall, and had a blue 
dress on." 

" This one's in black, carrying a bundle." 

" It's Rada," cried Ognianoff with a start. 

The doctor shared his surprise. 

Ognianoff drew himself up at full length in the doorway 
of the mill, and beckoned with both hands. 

Rada, who for some time had been wandering over the 
rocks, hunting for Boicho, now caught sight of him. She 
flew towards him, and was in the mill in a moment. 

" Rada ! " he cried. 

" Oh, Boicho, Boicho ! " she sobbed, half fainting, 
pressing her lips to his cheek. The doctor watched the 
scene with deep emotion. 

" And how is it you're here, Rada darling ? " asked 
Ognianoff as soon as he had mastered his feelings. 

" Marika brought me the letter you'd given her for the 
doctor. Ah, Boicho ! why are you so cruel to me ? " said 
Rada, amid tears of joy. " You're not angry with me now, 
are you ? You'd no right to be angry, you know, don't 
you ? " 

" Forgive me, pet, forgive me ! " and Boicho kissed her 



296 UNDER THE YOKE 

hands. " Sokoloff's just been showing me how mad IVe 
been ; it's terrible to think of ! I was coming to the town 
to ask you to forgive me for my cruelty. I'm unworthy of 
the love of an angel like you. But you'll forget and forgive, 
won't you, Rada ? " And Ognianoff gazed anxiously at her 
eyes, moist with boundless love and devotion. 

But Rada suddenly grew as pale as a ghost, started up 
from Boicho's side, and exclaimed : 

" Fly, Boicho ! I forgot to tell you. Fly ! You've been 
seen here, the Turks are coming ! " 

OgnianofE and SokoloiGE were thunderstruck. 

" Quick, quick, fly to the mountain ! " cried Rada in 
terror. 

" What ? " cried Sokoloff, who could not believe his ears. 

" A gipsy woman saw you and came and brought word, 
before I even met Marika. As I was coming here I saw a 
whole band of bashi-bozouks going towards the vineyards ; 
they've blocked the road, they're coming after you, Boicho. 
My God ! I forgot to tell you, the first thing. I lost a 
whole hour looking for you in the valley. We'll meet some 
other time. Fly, fly I '* 

In spite of the presence of mind for which Ognianoff was 
remarkable at critical moments, he was quite overwhelmed 
by this terrible news coming at such a joj^ul hour as this, at 
his unexpected meeting with Rada, comeHer and more 
charming than ever in the light of her heroic love : he was 
unable to take a rapid decision. He felt powerless to part 
from her at such a moment. And time was precious. 

" Fly — ^yes ! but what about you ? " said Boicho. 

" Never mind about me ; I shall be all right — only fly, 
quick ! Take this, the clothes are in it, but fly, Boicho ! 
Farewell, we'll meet again, if you'll only fly. Boicho, dear 
Boicho — ^farewell ! " 

And Rada, handing Ognianoff the bundle, seized him by 
the arm and forced him to the doorway. 

" No," said Ognianoff resolutely ; " I can't leave you like 
this. If these savages get hold of you " 

" Oh ! Boicho, they're coming ! " 

*' Yes, and if they find you alone in this wild spot, those 
brutes ! No, better die here defending you ! " 

But Boicho saw at once the madness, the complete use- 
lessness of this desperate resolution. He asked Rada 
abruptly : 



THE PARTING 297 

" Rada, will you go with us ? " 

To this most unexpected proposal Rada replied .with 
rapture : 

" Of course, Bolcho ! I'll go with you to the ends of the 
earth. Let's fly, Boicho ! " 

Ognianoff's eyes flashed. 

*' If we can only get to the ' Little Chair ' behind the 
waterfall, I can keep them there the whole evening, while 
you take Rada up the mountain," said Sokoloff. 

In truth behind the waterfall there was a narrow 
pass, strewn with sharp jagged rocks, and known as the 
" Little Chair," from which a well-armed man could keep 
a whole battalion at bay ; it was the only path up the 
mountain. 

There was no time to be lost. 

" To the mountain ! " cried Ognianoff. 

And he was the first to reach the doorway, from which he 
cast a searching glance round the valley. 

CHAPTER XVI : THE PARTING 

It was too late. 

On the opposite bank the sharp rocks were black with 
Turks . They were taking up their position behind the boul- 
ders and bushes there, and only their heads and the barrels 
of their guns were visible. On the summit stood a figure 
in white trousers pointing towards the mill. It was the 
gipsy woman. The Turks were already swarming up the 
cliff on which the mill stood. 

Ognianoff and the doctor saw that they were surrounded, 
and did not even think of escaping — it was impossible. 

The Turks continued to advance with precaution, taking 
advantage of every shelter afforded by the rocks and bushes : 
there were about a hundred of them. 

The path leading down to the valley was stiU open. 

Boicho turned to Rada and said : 

" Rada, go down the path along the stream." 

But just then a terrible thought darkened his face, and 
he said : 

" No, better stay here." 

The same decision was expressed on Rada's face. 

" With you, with you, Boicho," she faltered, with her 
hands folded across her breast. 



298 UNDER THE YOKE 

So much grief, love, and devotion could be read in her 
moist glance ! Such readiness to die ! 

Ognifetnoff and Sokoloff counted up their cartridges. 

" Eighteen," said the doctor. 

" Enough to die honourably," said Ognianoff in a whisper. 

Tossoun Bey commanded the attack in person. Before 
appearing on the cliff he had placed a guard in the valley, 
and so completely surrounded the rebels, or rather the rebel, 
for he was convinced that onlj^ Ognianoff was inside. 

Before giving the word to fire, Tossoun Bey ordered a 
final appeal to be made. 

" Surrender, Konsoloss Komita," was cried in Turkish. 

Only the echoes replied. 

Rada crouched half fainting in a corner. 

" Courage, Rada," said Boicho mournfully. 

She made a motion with her hand, as though to say " I 
was afraid at Klissoura because I was outcast and alone. 
Now I'm not afraid of dying with you, as you love me. You 
shall see." 

Boicho understood the heroic meaning of this dumb 
answer, and his eyes grew moist. 

Meanwhile the moments were passing by. Ognianoff 
and Sokoloff, leaning closely against the walls for pro- 
tection, held their revolvers tight. They glanced towards 
the two cliSs, from which they expected every moment 
to hear the report of the guns. 

A minute passed by, evidently the respite allowed by 
Tossoun Bey. 

Then from the eastern and western sides of the gorge 
alike there was a roar of musketry. The besieged heard 
the bullets whistle over their heads and through the holes 
in the masonry, and fall flattened at their feet. 

The valley of the Balkan re-echoed the sound. 

Suddenly the firing ceased. 

In spite of its many breaches, the building had sheltered 
the three unfortunates. Not one of them had been 
touched. Only Rada had sunk to the ground, unconscious : 
the poor child's courage had deserted her. Her hood had 
fallen off, and her dark hair rolled in waves over her 
shoulders and in the dust. 

A second volley would not be long in coming, and Rada, 
as she lay there, was exposed to the bullets. 

Ognianoff stooped, raised her in his arms, and carried her 



THE PARTING 299 

into the most sheltered corner, where he laid her, placing 
the bundle under her head ; but she did not recover — she 
lay unconscious and insensible of all that was going on 
round her. And before that fair pale face, with its closed 
eyes and bloodless lips, that graceful and charming figure 
lying in the dust, a terrible inexpressible sorrow filled his 
heart as he thought of the fast approaching moment when 
he must part for ever from the hapless girl who had united 
her lot with his own, and whom his hand could soon no 
longer defend from the unutterable fate which was in store 
for her. 

" Hadn't I better kill her myseK ? " he thought. 

As no reply was received from the mill, the besiegers 
became bolder, and advanced to the bottom of the cliff. 
The circle round the mill was growing narrower, and the 
moment for decisive action was rapidly advancing. 

" Surrender, Komita ! " they cried again. 

There was no answer. 

Suddenly a storm of bullets burst upon the mill. As 
the volley grew louder the Turks approached still nearer. 
From the continued silence, they came to the conclusion 
that the concealed rebel was unarmed. Bullets rained upon 
the walls. 

The Turks were now quite close. The time was at hand. 
Ognianoff stood upright at one window, the doctor in the 
doorway. 

They looked at one another, and each discharged his 
revolver into the surging mass of the enemy. The un- 
expected rejoinder brought three Turks to the ground, and 
revealed the force of the mill. The Turks saw that there 
was more than one rebel there. This confused them, but 
only for a moment. The victors of Klissoura rushed with a 
shout at the building. Some aimed from the banks at the 
openings in the walls, so as to prevent the defenders from 
appearing there and firing at the attacking party. The 
struggle could not last. 

" Doctor, we're done for : farewell forever, brother," said 
Boicho. 

" Farewell, brother ! " 

" Doctor, not one of us must fall into their hands alive ! " 

" No, not one of us. I've got four cartridges left. I'm 
keeping one for myself." 

" I'm keeping two, doctor," and Ognianoff involuntarily 



300 UNDER THE YOKE 

turned towards Rada. She lay there still, but her face had 
become deathlike in its pallor ; from her left breast a thin 
stream of blood was quietly trickling down over her dress. 
A bullet had glanced off the wall and struck her. She had 
passed from unconsciousness into eternal slumber. 

Then Boicho left his post and drew near to her : he knelt 
down, took her cold hands in his, and imprinted one long 
kiss on her icy lips ; he kissed her forehead, her wondrous 
loving eyes, her hair, and her wound where the blood was 
flowing. If he uttered any sound, murmured a last farewell 
in that last kiss, whispered a " Good-bye till we meet again, 
Rada," it could not be heard in the roar of the guns outside 
and the pattering of the bullets within. He wrapped her in 
his cloak. When Boicho rose, tears were flowing down his 
cheeks. 

A whole ocean of sorrow was in those tears. 

Perhaps — ^who knows ? — there was mingled also a warm 
feeling of gratitude to Providence ! 

CHAPTER XVII : DESTRUCTION 
During this last mute farewell, which lasted only half a 
minute, Sokoloff was facing alone the hundred assailants. 
Suddenly he turned round and saw Rada. Then his hair 
stood on end, his eyes flashed like a tiger's, and heedless 
of the danger, he drew himself up at full length in the 
doorway, as though mocking at the bullets, while he cried 
in the purest Turkish : 

" You cursed dogs ! you shall pay dearly for every drop 
of Bulgarian blood ! " and he discharged his revolver into 
the thick of the crowd. 

With redoubled frenzy the horde now rushed at the im- 
pregnable fortress — ^for such the ruined mill seemed to have 
become. A wild shout, followed by a fresh volley, cleft the 
air. 

*' Ah ! " groaned the doctor, flinging away his revolver. 
A bullet had pierced his right hand. Inexpressible terror 
and despair were depicted on his face. Ognianoff, still 
firing at the crowd, and also covered with blood, noticed 
this and asked : 

" Are you in pain, brother ? " 

*' No, but I've fired off my last cartridge — I forgot." 

" Here, there are still two left in my revolver, take it," 



DESTRUCTION 301 

said Ognianoff, handing the weapon to Sokoloff. " Now 
they shall see how a Bulgarian apostle dies ! " And draw- 
ing the long yataghan from the doctor's belt, he rushed 
from the door into the crowd, dealing frightful blows left 
and right. 

Half an hour later the whole horde, triumphant and 
ferocious, was marching with demoniacal glee from the 
valley with Ognianoff's head on a pole. The doctor's 
head, slashed to pieces by their knives (it had first been 
shattered by the doctor himself with a bullet), could not 
serve as a trophy. So also Rada's head was left behind for 
reasons of policy : Tossoun Bey was more cunning than his 
colleague of Tumrush. 

A cart behind conveyed the killed and wounded. 

With savage shouts of triumph the band reached the 
town. It was more silent and deserted than a graveyard. 
They set up the trophy in the market-place. 

Only one man was moving there, like a ghost. 

It was Mouncho. 

When he recognised the head of his beloved " Russian," 
his eyes flashed with a fierce unreasoning rage, and he broke 
out into a colossal and appalHng blasphemy against 
Mohammed. 

They hanged him by the butcher's shop. 

The idiot was the only man who had ventured to pro- 
test. 



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